The Soundcheck, September 2012
By j. Gabrielle
Marc Baskind: Marc with a “C”
The Mississippi Delta has been called “the most Southern place in the world”. It is the incubator for a great deal of American music including Rock-n-Roll and Delta Blues. It is also the birthplace of the musical soul of Marc Baskind.
Marc learned the ukulele at age 7, guitar at 11 and majored in the tuba. He fell in love with every kind of music. Unfortunately, he quit college and got into direct sales for 35 years.
Music took fire in him again in 1984 as he sat in on a riverside jam. Marc says he played good that day and had a good time. Among the audience was Joe Frank Carollo, the bassist of the 70’s soft rock band “Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds” best known for “Don’t Pull Your Love”. Joe Frank liked what he heard and hired Marc as a guitarist for his side project “Joe Frank & The Knights”. This eventually led to Baskind playing in Vegas with “H, JF & R” for several months. The band eventually stuck Marc on keyboard. “I had as much business on keys as performing brain surgery”, he says.
Disenchanted with the gig and with being on “The Road”, it was back to sales and some bad advice. A fellow salesman told him he’d never make it in sales as long as he had music as his goal. So, Marc quit playing for 15 years. He even quit listening to the radio.
Living in Bluefield, VA in the early part of this century, he got a call from a local beach band “The Collegians” who had been shagging since 1964. Saxophonist Scott Belcher asked him to join the band as guitarist. Marc has toured with the band since and will complete his run this year as they have embarked on their farewell tour. I got to see this band at the Tazewell County Fair last month. The excellent group performed beach and shag hits to the delighted packed house at Nuckolls Hall. Couples shagged to “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You”, “To The Beach”, “Every Time I Roll The Dice”, “Mustang Sally” and a Doo-wop version of “Stand By Me”. Baskind nailed a beautiful lead in the latter tune. “The Collegians” have five strong vocalists among their seven members.
Marc Baskind made Roanoke his home in 2004. It was in the mid-2000’s I first heard him at Open Mic. His Lou Rawls-like voice and material made me scrawl his number down. I have followed his various bands since.
Marc has put together several projects besides his solo endeavor. There’s the Marc Baskind Trio, and the Caravan Band (Jazz, Rock, Blues, Variety). Although he uses many different musicians, you will often find master drummer Kelly Gravely, bassist John Yates and monster keyboardist, Dave Ferguson. Marc also has country bands “39 & Holding”, Bluegrass “BluSpruce” and “The Stardusters” and Big Bands, “The Swaykatz” and “Let’s Dance”.
Marc is a faithful member of the Southwest Virginia Songwriters Association who he says “opened his eyes about the importance of lyric”. He credits fellow member and songwriter Greg Trafidlo with pushing him to do a CD and also to go to the annual Swannanoa Gathering in North Carolina. Here, Marc has enjoyed a vocal class from Kathy Mattea and a performance class from Janis Ian, among many others.
Baskind’s heroes of music are Ray Charles, B.B. King, and Tommy Emmanuel. He admires Norah Jones, Diana Krall and Lou Rawls. He can’t play reggae unless he is dancing. His favorite song to sing is “We’re in This Love Together” by Al Jarreau. His criteria is “I guess I’m looking for the SOUL, the MAGIC of the music”.
His advice to other musicians? “Give more to the song than you are getting!” and also, “SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC!”
At 166 years old (he admits to anyway), he performs 3-4 gigs a week. I asked what his goal is. “I sat in last week with Jane Powell, J.J., Bernie on bass, Dave…just to play with those guys is a goal!”