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Chris Clarke

Chris Clarke: Guitar (acoustic), Harmonica, Mandolin

Genre: Bluegrass & Roots

Sound description: Southern Appalachian Heritage Music, which is old-time bluegrass and traditional Americana.

RIYL: Dave Grisman, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Bill Monroe

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Synoposis

Current Status: Currently performing with a trio (John Mailander on fiddle and David Bandrowski on banjo) every month at Urban Solace in North Park and the Red Barn in Wynola Springs.

Influences: Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Ernie Carpenter, Tracy Schwarz, John Cephas, Phil Wiggins, Peter Rowan, Jerry Douglas

Background:

Born in 1969 in Richmond, Virginia, Chris Clarke comes from a family of musicians. His grandfather, J.P. Clarke, was a ragtime piano player in vaudeville, as well as an old-time fiddle, guitar, and mandolin player. His brother and cousin are both performing artists in Virginia. As a kid, Clarke was exposed early on to old-time fiddle and blue grass music at family reunions and pickin' parties. He began writing and playing guitar after seeing Bob Dylan perform with the Grateful Dead in 1986. This experience changed his life forever and served as the compass for his musical exploration for the next few years.

During college in Elkins, West Virginia, Clarke was exposed to the traditional music masters who took up residence at the Augusta Heritage Center -- fiddlers like Ernie Carpenter, Tracy Schwarz, and the country blues of John Cephas and Phil Wiggins. During this time he also studied finger-style blues guitar and developed an ear for writing melodies. While in Elkins, he completed an undergraduate degree in biology and environmental science.

Returning to Virginia in the early 1990s, Clarke lived in a turn-of-the-century log cabin on the edge of the Blue Ridge Parkway and met Jeff Bibb, the founder of Webb Straps. It was through Bibb that Clarke would get his first Flatiron mandolin, have dinner with Peter Rowan and Jerry Douglas, and begin his "bluegrass woodshedding" period. Around mid-1990, he finished a Master's degree in biology and worked as a freshwater fisheries ecologist before moving to California.

California brought much change. Clarke was married to his wife, Tiffany, in 2001 and they continue to host a house concert series at their home in Kensington. He met Walt Richards at a mandolin concert and began to study the music and art of the mandolin. Soon after that, Clarke met up with Mike Compton and David Long, and was introduced to Bill Monroe-style mandolin playing. In 2004, Clarke formed the Second Hand String Band and began performing regularly at festivals and venues across Southern California.

Clarke also teaches and plays mandolin, guitar, and upright bass, and performs with the bluegrass band Plow. He has also played with Darren Weiss and Sarah Voytek as part of the Monroe Avenue String Band.

As of 2012, he plays in a country-blues duo called Chris Clarke and Dane Terry, performing pre-war blues, Americana, folk, and contemporary eclectic selections, as well as originals. Clarke and Terry previously played together in Zapf Dingbats, who were nominated for having the Best Blues Album at the 2012 San Diego Music Awards.

He plays a 2005 Old Wave F4 mandolin, a 1998 Woodley oval hole A mandolin, a 2005 Santa Cruz D/PW BZ guitar, and a 1970 Hofner upright bass. He uses D'Addario strings and smokes Drum tobacco (at least when his wife ain't looking).

Discography

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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