Mark Schatz was born April 23, 1955 into a musical family. He began his formal musical training with cello at age ten and later switched over to string bass. His first performance was in 1971 on electric bass in a high school rock band. Inspired by a love for folk and traditional music, he took up the guitar, mandolin, and clawhammer banjo. He received his Degree in Music Theory and Composition from Haverford College, and studied for a year at Berklee College of Music.
Twice named International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bass Player of the Year, Mark has toured and recorded with a stellar array of artists including Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, John Hartford, Tim O'Brien, acoustic innovators Nickel Creek, Claire Lynch, and Sarah Jarosz. Mark is the Musical Director for internationally acclaimed Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble which showcases other talents such as clawhammer banjo and Southern Appalachian clog dancing. This versatile multi-instrumentalist has two of his own solo recordings, Brand New Old Tyme Way and Steppin’ in the Boiler House on Rounder Records, which feature his own eclectic blend of original compositions on the banjo.
Grit & Polish, his most recent release with former Claire Lynch bandmate, Bryan McDowell, is a pared down burst of everything from old time to Bob Dylan, and there will be dates booked to support this project. Mark will also be touring in the fall of 2021 with his old friend and colleague, Bela Fleck, to support his new release, My Bluegrass Heart. His ongoing activities include recording, instructional camps, private instruction, and his own solo show, Mark Schatz-The Solo Concert!
Bryan McDowell is a person predictable only in his consistent excellence.
Fiddler, vocalist, and master of stringed instruments, his reputation is solidifying as a musician of great interest on the acoustic scene.
With his move to Nashville in 2013, Bryan grounded his career in a 4 year tenure with Claire Lynch. He has logged considerable time on the road with bluegrass notables Sierra Hull, Alison Brown, Ron Block, & Molly Tuttle, and shared the stage and studio with an ever-expanding list of legendary names from the realm of roots and acoustic music. The talents of the new master have made their way on to several recordings garnering IBMA awards, and one project receiving a Grammy nomination.
In 2018, he returned to his hometown of Asheville, NC. Choosing now to commit his time and efforts to training youth in the traditions of mountain music, he teaches full time on an array of stringed instruments. With humility and care, he passes on the legacy of his mentor and instructor, Arvil Freeman.
[Prior accolades worth mentioning are Bryan’s triple win - a sweep of the fiddle, mandolin, and guitar categories - at the National Flatpicking Championship in '09, and his 21 other instrument contest titles from '09 & '10.]