"Music has always been an essential part of my life. It never was a mere escape, as rock and roll has been for some people," expresses singer-songwriter Mak Wolven proudly.
Wolven, who is also a fine guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, currently hails from Maine but grew up in Hawaii, Texas, and upstate New York as well.
The son of a Hawaiian mother and a Dutch-American father, his first name is pronounced "Mock," short for "Maakala," a Hawaiian name given him by his musically talented mother.
"There was always music around when I was growing up," explains Wolven. "My mother played the piano. Later she re-married an Italian guy who was a professional drummer, playing a lot of wedding gigs and so forth. I'd go on the gigs and watch him play. I learned a lot from him about performance and professionalism."
As a youth, Mak was taken by the Beatles and, as a result, learned a lot about songwriting and composition from them.
He also was influenced by many other emerging groups from the sixties like the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, the Left Banke, the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield.
This exploding counter-cultural revolution in music made an indelible impression on young Wolven inspiring him to form his first band in high school.
"I started in garage bands basically massacring Beatles tunes," laughs Mak. "I lived in upstate New York at the time, and we played all around. Later I formed a folk group in college where we focused on bars and coffeehouses."
This eventually led to his joining a bluegrass group where he studied the German bass. It was here that he laid the foundation for where his music would ultimately lead.
"Bluegrass was pretty influential to me," explains the singer. "Those dobros, mandolins and four or five part harmonies really touched a nerve with me."
Presently a source of influence and inspiration for Mak is that of his own current band. He likens bassist Adam Chilenski, guitarist Phil Clement and drummer Charlie Hendricks to that of a Ferrari sports car where "you can go fast or slow if you want and do it in style."
Wolven and company are currently touring in support of his independently released CD entitled American Landscape. He likes to call the music on it "Americana" and describes it this way: "It's rootsy, sincere and honest. You know, sometimes you want a girlfriend that's not all dressed up in glitter and diamonds. You want somebody in jeans and cowboy boots."
And basically that's how his music is, country stripped down to the bare essentials; strong songwriting, crisp and clear vocals, just the right mix of acoustic and electric elements and superb storytelling.
"Everything kind of comes from personal experience," states Wolven. "I can't not write about my life. Face it, this is part therapy in a way. You're getting out emotions and crystallizing where you've been for others to see.
"For example, I was at Borders the other night and I had just finished a song called 'Gold.' It was a personal song, and this guy came up and started asking me if I wrote it. I said yes, and he proceeded to ask me who it was about. I blushed because it was about a love interest, and I was busted right there! It was something purely private, and I felt so naked. But I didn't mind sharing the song with him because I'm trying to be honest and open."
While Wolven and band primarily tour throughout Maine and parts of New England, the near future will find them venturing down to Texas as well as Nashville, parts of Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina where they will be hitting the club circuit as well as more Borders Books stores and area festivals.
"You know, being a songwriter and performer can be a little schizophrenic at times," claims Wolven. "You go from being introverted, in your room alone writing a song, to being extroverted and playing it in front of five thousand people. What a conflict! If our music ever takes off on a bigger scale, I've got a lot of explaining to do!"
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