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Ponte Vedran of the Week: Mark Williams

Mark Williams on Guitar and Harmonica
Mark Williams on Guitar and Harmonica

I met Mark Williams several years ago when I had preschool aged kids at Accotink Academy. Though loved by the kids, Mr. Mark, as he’s fondly referred to by children, is much more than a classroom teacher. A quiet, unassuming sort, Mark is an accomplished musician. He and his band Blue Horse put on and eclectic and energetic show. You can often find him down at Lillie’s Coffee in Atlantic Beach performing. His latest CD, Out Past the Moon, comes out in a few days. Be sure to attend the CD release party at the Mudville Music Room September 4th!

Name:  Mark R Williams

Occupation: Musician/Teacher
Where I grew up: In a small town in NE Pennsylvania. It was along the Susquehanna River by the mountains. It was a slightly depressed area, and the sun rarely shined, but it had a certain beauty to it. I can still smell the autumn air, and when I close my eyes I can see the rich colors of that season or the white cape of snow covering the hills in winter. And when you would get a sunny day in spring or summer it would be a reason to take the day off from work.
A Ponte Vedran since: 1996
Other Places I have lived? NYC, Brooklyn, Long Island
My favorite thing about Ponte Vedra: The weather, the sunshine, the beaches and the friends (musical and otherwise) I’ve made in this area. Also the NPR radio station 89.9 is great for music in the evenings.
My least favorite thing about Ponte Vedra: I don’t dwell on the negative.
In my spare time I like to? I like to play music and write songs. I also like spending time with family and friends. And…swimming. For years I would play soccer once or twice a week but my neck grew old before the rest of me, so after two surgeries I sadly had to hang up my cleats.
Ponte Vedran you most admire: There are a lot of people here I admire. I’ve met some caring individuals who are musicians, doctors, lawyers, teachers, golf pros, patrons of the arts, and business owners. Some of them I have had the privilege of teaching their children. Some I’ve had the joy of performing music with. And some have become good friends. They are all people that I see as striving to make this world a better place. People who are open-minded look out for others.
My favorite time in Ponte Vedra: I have always enjoyed late afternoons, sitting on the beach, with the sun low in the sky and a bit of a breeze off the ocean. It was especially wonderful when my kids were small, and my wife and I would hang with friends.
Dream Vacation other than Ponte Vedra? I’d love to tour the UK performing my songs in clubs and pubs. Being able to perform makes everything better.
If I could invite anyone over to dinner – 2 Ponte Vedrans and one famous person – who would you invite? This is very hard to answer. I’d love going to dinner with President Jimmy Carter, who is brilliant, or Sir Paul McCartney, who is a Beatle (which says it all). My two PVB guests would be my two sons Matt and Luke.
Last time you went to the beach: Last weekend I took a walk and chatted with my mom on the phone.
Last time you saw live music: I went to see Linda Grenville and Mike Shackelford on Wednesday night. I so enjoy listening to a lot of the local musicians, singers and songwriters in this area.
Favorite Ponte Vedra restaurant (or area): I’ve been enjoying all of the local Thai restaurants in the area lately. Also I like Trasca & Co. And though it’s not in Ponte Vedra but still here at the beach, I enjoy Lillie’s Coffee Bar.
Favorite place for a cocktail: I don’t usually just go out for cocktails.
Favorite way to get exercise here: I go for a swim or sometimes a walk/run on the beach. Also performing with my band. If you’ve seen us you know why I am so thin.
Favorite movie: Too many to name just one.
Favorite TV show: I watch Netflx shows.
Favorite book: I read a lot and get into phases. Some times I’m reading biographies such as Holy Terror, by Bob Colacello which is about Andy Warhol, (I am reading it for the second or third time), or I’ll be caught up in fiction, both current or classic.
Favorite band or music: I love a lot of music and artists. Right now I’m listening to some musicians out of Mali. My son Matthew had given me some CDs he brought home from there a few years ago. And this week a friend lent me a CD of this acoustic guitarist from Mali, named Boubacar Traore which I am so enjoying. Another CD I have been listening to a lot lately is from Jacksonville songwriter Roy Peak called All Is Well. And then there is always the Beatles, Neil Young, Bruce, and Bob Dylan.
Something most people don’t know about you: If I answer this then everyone will know it, and what fun is that?
Anything else: When I first moved from the NYC area I was lost musically and thought the opportunities would be slim. But actually I was able to accomplish more than I’d imagined, due to the fact I lived in this area. I was able to write music for a couple of Off-Broadway shows because the playwright lived in Jacksonville,
I received a grant from The Community Foundation of Jacksonville and the J. Shepard, Jr. and Mary Ann Bryan Arts Endowment to produce my first CD Ghosts of Eden, I was able to perform on the same venue as some of my musical heroes such as Steve Forbert, Arlo Guthrie and Randall Bramblett. Also around 2001 I started teaching music, both privately and at Accotink Academy By The Sea, which I have found to be a wonderful and rewarding experience. I am releasing my new CD, Out Past the Moon, in September. My band Blue Horse and I are having a CD Release Concert at Mudville on September 4th.

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