For ten years, Mark “Busfare” Wiskowski played bass in the local cover band the Jones Revival. This ended about two years ago when the band, according to Wiskowski, “fizzled out.” About five years into his run with the Revival, Wiskowski, got the songwriting itch and decided to borrow two members of the band, Carissa Schroeder (vocals) and Charlie McRee (drums), for a new project called the High Gallery. Five years later, the trio have released The High Gallery III. It’s another grab-bag of Wiskowski’s varied musical influences (Dixie Jazz, Etta James, Rolling Stones, Shocking Blue) distilled into song form.
“I had a bunch of songs, and that’s where it starts,” says Wiskowski. “You need a catalyst. From there, I just went ahead and said ‘Come over. Let’s just start recording.’ We demoed stuff out and moved on from there and started to release stuff. All three of us just decided to work on these songs. From there, it just kind of metastasized, and we’ve just been continually doing it.”
The trio aren’t the only players on the High Gallery albums. It’s more fitting to refer to them as the only consistent ones. Even though the band’s releases are peppered with guest performances by local musicians Wiskowski, a dedicated bassist, still jokes that he played about 80 percent of the guitar on The High Gallery III.
The rotating cast of secondary musicians makes sense. There is no need for a full band at this point, as they have yet to play an official show. It’s a bit of a surprise from Wiskowski, a veteran of local original acts such as the Jury and Cape May, who always seemed right at home on a stage. The years spent earning decent money playing covers seems to have turned him off from the disrespect that he feels musicians who perform original music often have to endure. He made it clear that he doesn’t miss it.
“Now that I’ve gone through the mill playing in cover bands and getting paid for the skill level that I have, I really don’t. I think it’s unfortunate that people will go and take gigs and not get paid what they’re worth. You don’t get anywhere. You just feel like you’re circling the bull, and you’re not really getting out anywhere. That can be frustrating to say the least,” he said.
“To just come out with records is kind of creating a legacy. Just keep on building on that rather than going down the street and playing for an hour for $40 that you guys split between six people.”
Wiskowski has already started recording demos for the next High Gallery release, but is open to the possibility of a future show.
“If the right offer came along, and people would want to see it, there’s a good possibility [a show] could happen. Until then, it’s concentrating on the studio stuff and exploring that as a songwriter.”