We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Oblinger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
My dad was a wonderful man of few words, so when he said to me on more than one occasion, “Don’t ever sell yourself short,” I knew he was really trying to make a point. And he did. I always took those words to mean that there will be challenges in your life that sometimes seem insurmountable and you might have to “give up” or change the approach you’re taking to solve a problem or achieve a goal. But the important piece was to never give up on “you.”
I think I’ve learned just as much or more about myself from those moments of perceived failure than any of my successes and as you get older, you hopefully learn to avoid repeating some of those same pitfalls.
I’ve found that I often create my own obstacles for success out of fear or insecurity as an artist and once you recognize that it’s a roadblock that you’ve created, you can usually turn left or right and figure out a way to get to where you want to be. Recognizing that you created the roadblock is the key – but that can take a lifetime to learn so start early!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I grew up an Army brat. I was really lost during my teens, but my one constant was music – from having the “stop you in your tracks” moment as a kid the first time I heard “She Loves You” – to listening to hours of my Dad’s Pop records of the day (Ella, Sinatra, Jobim) – to my first electric guitar, to high school and college bands, and then playing and touring nationally (Pure Prairie League, Firefall), to composing for TV (Oprah), to winning Emmy Awards (The Big Green Rabbit ) and co-writing/producing a Grammy Nominated Children’s Jazz Symphony (JumpinJazz Kids – “A Swinging Jungle Tale”).
Most folks are well aware of the struggles that people in the arts face as far as putting together a career that actually pays the bills (at least some of them) and also feeds your artistic identity and my path was no exception. But being an artist is about choices and my success in the business is directly correlated to my rock solid family foundation and several other key factors/decisions.
One was being honest about my strengths and weaknesses. I excelled early on as a vocalist and from there got work that opened doors to touring, album production and composing. Next, I knew I was a solid instrumentalist but not nearly at the level of what I wanted to be so I learned to recognize and put together groups of great players that could bring my production ideas to life. The other key piece was being a good communicator. I think I’ve learned to speak “music” pretty well over the years – from coaching the best performances from artists to expressing a musical vibe/idea to players that’s inclusive and invites them to add their own influences/
All of these experiences lead me back to my original love of songwriting and putting out my High Water Line album in 2019. I’ve been writing and performing my own songs since my early 20’s but was plagued with the familiar “writer’s doubt” that many know well – “Is it any good?” “Am I any good?” Well, after losing some good friends of late and having some health issues of my own (doing fine), I decided to push through this last roadblock – and I could not be happier with the final product and the response it’s garnered. The pandemic of course put a stop to any touring last year but I look forward to recording and releasing a new batch of songs later this summer and getting out on the road again when it makes sense.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would definitely hit the nature scene and some of the fantastic trails around Boulder. Eldorado canyon for sure. Maybe head down to Salida and the Mt Princeton Hot Springs. Steamboat Springs would be high on the list too. The Western Slope? I’m in!
As far as music, Red Rocks is THE place – one of the top venues in the world. The Boulder Theater and The Fox are also outstanding. A taping of the nationally syndicated radio program eTown would be a can’t miss. And add dinner at any number of incredible restaurants on the Boulder Mall beforehand for a perfect night!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents and brother were key but my partner Linda and our wonderful children Kyle and Claire have been my greatest assets and sources of inspiration in my adult life. I’ve learned so much about how to live and what’s important to me through their love and encouragement. I can’t imagine this journey without them.
Linda’s creative skillset as a software engineer, super Mom AND great singer provided a bedrock foundation that has allowed me to reach artistic heights and succeed at things I wouldn’t have come close to without her support, guidance – and now as a badass singing partner! And being Dad to Kyle and Claire is the greatest gift I have ever been given. They have taught me so much about love and giving just by being themselves. I am proud beyond words.
There’s also so many folks to thank inside and outside of the music business that have been such key parts of my life that I wouldn’t know where to begin as far as making a list. You have all touched and influenced my life so much more than you ever could imagine and I am forever grateful.
Other: Check out my Children’s Jazz Symphony at https://jumpinjazzkids.com/ and get a free CD! Would love to get a copy to as many classrooms in the Denver/Metro area as possible in the next month. Drop me a line via my contact page. I deliver!
Scott McCormick – Album Poster. Pics 1, 2, 6, 7 John McVey – Pic 3 Scott Rowland – Pic 4, 8 Lisa Siciliano – Pic 6