THIS MONTH, PAUL DUNTON PLAYS HOMAGE TO LOCAL MUSIC LEGEND MARK MORRISS
Tunbridge Wells is blessed with a fantastic music scene and there are hundreds and hundreds of amazing local musicians who live in the town and the surrounding area. One such musician who is held in great esteem by his peers is Bluetones frontman Mark Morriss. Mark is a popular figure and resident in Tunbridge Wells, and can often be found playing at The Forum and The Grey Lady.
The Bluetones are an English indie rock band, formed in Hounslow, Greater London, in 1993. They were at the forefront of the ‘Britpop’ era in the 1990s and were regularly championed by the late John Peel on his popular radio programme. The Bluetones have scored 13 top 40 singles and three top 10 albums in the UK charts. The Bluetones continue to actively tour across the UK and further afield at various renowned festivals and venues. Mark is also enjoying a successful solo career and after releasing his debut solo album Memory Muscle in 2008, Mark banded together The Mummys and hit the road. He spent the best part of that year touring Memory Muscle while The Bluetones took a short sabbatical.
After returning to The Bluetones to record their A New Athens swansong, Mark refocused his attention on his solo career. In 2013 he recorded A Flash of Darkness, raising the recording funds via a successful PledgeMusic campaign. In the summer of 2015 Mark recorded and released The Taste of Mark Morriss for Acid Jazz Records. Intended as a companion to A Flash of Darkness, the album comprised a collection of cover versions of songs that had informed the writing of its predecessor.
In 2015, The Bluetones announced that they would be returning to play a series of anniversary shows – it started to look like there was never going to be time to start work on Mark’s fourth solo record but in December 2016 another successful PledgeMusic campaign enabled the new album entitled Look Up to become a reality.
With his Bluetones and solo commitments, Mark is a very busy musician and he also is a regular member of Matt Berry’s touring band The Maypoles.
Over the years, Mark has regularly appeared at The Forum, performing solo and with The Bluetones – he has also performed many intimate solo shows at The Grey Lady and has invited local bands such as The Standard Lamps and The Gallerys to open for The Bluetones at various tour dates.
Mark has performed at Unfest and Local & Live on numerous occasions; Unfest and Local & Live are both free to attend community festivals, they are essentially grass roots organic events, run on a shoestring budget by passionate volunteers. Both events are obviously not in a position to offer anything like the crowds, trappings and glamour that the likes of Glastonbury or Reading can, but Mark plays at them because he enjoys performing for his local fans and friends and is genuinely supportive of the local music scene – he wants to be part of it. Aside from his exemplary musicianship and song writing prowess, it is these aspects of his personality that endear him to so many and is why he is looked up to by many local aspiring musicians. Our local scene is incredibly lucky to have him around and all the stronger because he is involved right in the heart of it.