"Fuck, I'm in love." That right there is a very specific feeling to have about love. It's one that holds extreme excitement for what may come, but stands coupled with a feeling of: "This could end so poorly that I may have to try to actually avoid a person for the rest of my life." It's a feeling that is conveyed by a song of the same title on The Celebrated Workingman's 2014 album, "Don't Let Your Memories Kill You". The song starts off with the line "If winning your heart means to tear mine apart, then I'm winning your heart." Yep, that about sums it up.
The man behind those delectable lyrics and titles is Mark Waldoch. The lead singer of The Celebrated Workingman performs with a very large voice that implores you to listen, and it is refined enough to hear every emotion passing through it. At Boone & Crockett's Gypsy Taco benefit show last August, Mark started off his solo set with a subtle, yet commanding version of the romantic standard, "La Vie En Rose"; and for a person to introduce themselves to an audience like that, takes a different kind of courage and confidence. Doing that takes the listener by the hand and let's them know that this performance is going to be more than just a few songs, it's going to be an experience to lock and hold in your mind.
Mark is one of those singers and songwriters to remember. He is humble and very intentional, and what blooms from that combination is a clear soundscape of love, humor, and practicality (a.k.a. life). Read our interview with Waldoch below.
MM: How are You Doing?
MW: I know this is about music, but it's also consumed all of my free time as of late. I just finished my part in an Alverno Presents concert. A night of music by an American songwriter curated by local talent of high caliber. This one explored new renditions of Prince's music. I met so many great people and musicians from the Milwaukee and nearby areas I didn't personally know before. I want to make all the music with them. I performed alongside a string quartet named Tontine Ensemble led by musician/composer-arranger/ and outstanding human, Barry Clark, who is also part of Milwaukee's own Field Report.
MM: You're a lyrics man. You appreciate the story and imagery behind words. How did that come to be more relevant to you in your own musical creations?
MW: I don't know if it "became" more relevant so to speak. It's always been important from day one. I often find most music superficial and vapid without decent lyrics. Music that one chooses to include lyrics with, that is.
MM: In a related field to lyrics... You recently did someone's nuptials for them... Can you tell us what was going through your head?
MW: In one word, terrifying. On one hand it's really an honor to be asked by anyone to do this for them, much less your best friend. Unfortunately it is also impossible to know if you're saying the right thing without sounding tacky, common, or religious, but I suppose that is why they picked moi. When I started, all I did was search through comedians musings on marriage. Which turned out to be mostly about divorce, so I couldn't use any of it, but it was definitely entertaining research.
MM: There is a wonderful sense of humor and sometimes irony in your lyrics - what can you say about the importance of those things in your writing?
MW: I think that's just what comes out. It's what I've put into my brain for years so it's only right and natural. I'm not sure if there is any intended importance , it's just something that happens I suppose. I enjoy that in others writing, I'm glad you feel that it's in mine.
MM: Would you be willing to share a story about love (happy or sad) that had impacted you enough to write about it?
MW: Well here's a story I have told maybe three times tops. Once I was very much in love. Quite literally, a single day hadn't gone by without seeing each other in our first year. She had a long-time-in-the-planning 2 week family vacation to Europe, but I could not afford to go along. We actually had some strange form of separation anxiety. I remember balling at a BP gas station near Antioch after dropping her off at her arrogantly-vain, superficial dad's. After that I immediately drove to my practice space. I wrote and recorded a song for her on my Tascam 4- track bounced it to my CDR burning stereo component. Yes that was a thing. She was really quite sweet to me. Before she left on the trip, she made me a little care package. An ornate & elaborate box (I still have over 10 years later) with gifts and notes for each day she was gone and detailed explanations of exactly what she'd be doing each day. I was instructed not to read ahead. Well I did anyway of course. I skipped ahead to the day right before she would be returning. Found out she'd be checking into a hotel in Paris and I overnight fed-ex'd my song to her so when she arrived at the hotel it would be waiting there for her. 2 years later we'd get engaged in London on the Westminster bridge.
MM: Anything upcoming that you are especially excited about?
MW: I quite love Christmas songs and I've got a show in December with the group Testa Rosa - longtime friends and old band mates. And Nate, the guitarist from Celebrated Workingman is getting married on January 2nd, that's pretty dope.
MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?
MW: I'm not saying this because I work there twice a week, but I really do love the cocktail bar, Boone & Crockett. Everybody I work for and work with there really puts in the time and effort to make that place special. I feel pretty lucky to be there and they let me go and pretend to be a fucking musician all the time, and I still have a job, so that's pretty cool.
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