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Mark Telesca – Brand New Day

Mark Telesca – Brand New Day
Mosher Street Records

by Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © June 2023

Without getting into his personal life, I’m just going to say that Brand New Day, Mark Telesca’s new release, could not have been more appropriately titled. Those of us who know him well, and we are many, know exactly what I’m talking about.

When Mark – on vocals and guitars – was putting the band together for this project, he didn’t just assemble some of the best players on each of their respective instruments, he assembled some of his best friends as well. Those maestros are: Grammy and Blues Music Award winner Jason Ricci on harmonica; Blues Music Award winner Jimmy Carpenter on saxophone; Blues Music Award nominee and International Blues Challenge winner JP Soars on guitar; master keyboardist Bob Taylor on piano and organ; the very versatile Dave Bertok on drums; and Marc Loren, the disc’s co-producer, on background vocals. Of the disc’s eleven tracks, eight are Mark Telesca originals.

The opening track – “Big Feet” – kicks off with Jason being typical Jason by blowing the hell out of a harp while being backed by a thunderous rhythm from Mark on the bass and Dave on the drums. From that moment on, this rhythm fueled smoker never relents. Lyrically, I get the feeling this song was written out of a real-life experience and if I’m correct, I wouldn’t want to be that big footed person. That said, the word “feet” happens to be a clever metaphor and its use ingeniously melds humor and sarcasm. To get an idea of what the song actually addresses, think Pinocchio.

On the soulful “Never Can Tell”, Mark shares some of his thoughts about having had some unfortunate down time. Wearing his heart on his sleeve – the heart he’s singing out – his words on the opening verse explain a lot:

“I got my guitar, and I’m going down to the club;

Maybe I’ll play some music, maybe I’ll find some love.

You know I’ve been sitting too long, in this old rockin’ chair;
It’s time I get up and get back to work, you know I ain’t no millionaire.

I can’t help to think to myself, I’m stuck somewhere between heaven and hell’:

You never can tell, oh you never can tell.”

Being one of those songs that was written from the heart and tells such a warm and truthful story, the lyrics just need to be shared. That said, showing love for his friends that did just that for him, Mark shares these thoughts:

“I’ve got these people, yeah they’re good friends of mine;

They call me every once in a while, to make sure I ain’t left behind.

I always tell them I’m gonna be okay;

See, I don’t want to make nobody to worry, even if I have a bad day.

I can’t help to think to myself, I’m stuck somewhere between heaven and hell’:

You never can tell, oh you never can tell.”

Yes, there are more, but you’re just going to have to listen for yourself. Musically, Jimmy brings a lot of soul to the mix with his poignant sax runs; and the coming together of the background vocals, the tambourine and the impromptu hand claps magically become the cherry on the top of the ice cream.

While Mark is masterfully muffling his vocals on this outstanding rendition of “Burning Hell” (John Lee Hooker), the bands making some fire of their own. This foot stompin’, hand clappin’, barn burner features Dave’s most profound drum pounding; Jason administering his patented havoc on a harmonica; and JP, arguably the best guitarist in the business, scorching the hell out of the slide guitar runs.

Although it’s one of Mark’s originals, “The Way You Move” sounds like a song The Band, The Mavericks, or a dozen other Americana bands could have had a hit with. It’s one of those songs that features a handful of stellar musicians, not doing anything extraordinary other than mastering their individual instruments. Tracks like this are what allow a vocalist to shine, and shine is what Mark did.

“Rain On Me” is a similar type of song but because of a few fantastic harmonica riffs from Jason, it does have a bit of a bluesier edge. Once again, it’s a rhythm rich track led by brilliant organ work from Bob, with Mark and Dave proving to be quite the formidable duo on the bass and drums.

Thinking it was odd to close with the title track, my mind completely changed once I heard it. This is why I only write about recordings and don’t produce them. I hope it’s okay for me to take the liberty to say this, but this beautiful, uplifting song was obviously inspired by, written for, and is being sung to Mark’s wonderful, beautiful and inspirational wife Karene. It is indeed a “Brand New Day” for them both…..with lots more ahead.

Other tracks on this dynamite disc include: “I Pray For You”; “Mrs. Robinson” (Paul Simon); “Higher Ground” (Stevland Morris, a.k.a. Stevie Wonder); “Like A Fool”; and “Ain’t Never Gonna Be The Same”.

On a personal note, I’d like to say that it’s always great to listen to and write about quality music, by quality musicians, but when those quality musicians are your friends, it becomes something special.

If you need a copy of Brand New Day, please contact Mark Telesca through his website – www.marktelesca.com – and when you do, please tell him his friend the Blewzzman sent you.

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