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Marc Ford and Muddy Dutton at the Redstone Room in Davenport, Iowa (07/27/2007)
April 13, 1966|
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, band leader, record producer|
|Instruments||Electric guitar, slide guitar|
|Labels||Shrapnel Records/Blues Bureau/Naim Label|
|Associated acts||The Black Crowes, Burning Tree, The Neptune Blues Club, Jefferson Steelflex, Fuzz Machine, The Sinners, Blue Floyd, The Steepwater Band, Ryan Bingham, Ben Harper, The Scarecrows, The Magpie Salute|
|Website||Marc Ford's official website|
Marc Ford (born April 13, 1966) is an American blues-rock guitarist. He is a former lead guitarist of the rock and roll jam band The Black Crowes and the leader of his own bands: Burning Tree, Marc Ford & The Neptune Blues Club, Jefferson Steelflex, Fuzz Machine, and Marc Ford & The Sinners. He is currently performing with other former Black Crowes members in The Magpie Salute.
- 1 History
- 2 Discography
- 3 References
- 4 External links
Ford started out playing the Southern California/Los Angeles underground rock scene in the early and mid-eighties in bands such as Citadel, which later went by the names Citadel Ltd & Head. He also played guitar on the self-titled 1984 EP by Jack Grisham's post-T.S.O.L. project Cathedral of Tears, on which he is credited as "Mark Ford". He played in the L.A. side-project band Stronzo which featured Mickey Finn of Jetboy, Sami Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks/Jetboy, and various other musicians playing shows outside of their main bands. In 1988 Ford played guitar for Michael Monroe at the Scream club - also with Sami Yaffa on bass - which was the first ever L.A. show for the former Hanoi Rocks singer. Ford also played with early Dogs D’Amour/L.A. Guns man Robert Stoddard, and around this time was in The Scarecrows.
In the late eighties, Citadel Ltd/Head evolved into the blues-rock outfit Burning Tree, a power trio featuring Ford on guitars and vocals, Mark Dutton on bass and vocals, and Doni Gray on drums. Burning Tree released their self-titled debut album on Epic Records in 1990. A commercial failure but a critical success, Burning Tree allowed the group to tour extensively throughout most of 1990 and 1991. The band's career was cut short when Ford left to join the Black Crowes, for whom Burning Tree had opened on their first (and only) tour.
The Black Crowes
When the Black Crowes severed their relationship with their original guitarist Jeff Cease, Ford was asked to fill the vacancy. He accepted the offer, and a few days later was asked by Slash to join Guns n' Roses. Ford refused. At the time, Guns n' Roses were in the middle of a huge stadium world tour; Ford said in 2017 that he would probably be dead now, had he joined them.
Ford stepped into the Crowes' lineup just in time for the band to record their 1992 sophomore album, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. The album reached Number 1 on the Billboard charts and earned a double platinum certificate for sales. Ford performed on the next two Black Crowes releases, Amorica (1994) and Three Snakes and One Charm (1996), and is also credited for tracks from the band's two unreleased albums (1993's Tall and 1997's Band, later released together as The Lost Crowes). His addition to the Black Crowes sound, which consisted primarily of slide guitar and southern twang, helped define the band at the time. Ford's ability to adapt to core songwriter Rich Robinson's music and crunchy rhythm guitar sound solidified him and Robinson as the preeminent guitar duo of the 1990s.
During his time in the Black Crowes Ford also played slide guitar on British band Thee Hypnotics' 1994 album The Very Crystal Speed Machine,produced by Chris Robinson.
Ford was dismissed from the Black Crowes in late 1997, following the band's stint on the summer-long Furthur Festival tour. Black Crowes leaders Chris and Rich Robinson cited Ford's excessive drug use as the reason for his firing, a reason that was confirmed by the guitarist entering a rehab facility soon after his dismissal.
Solo and collaborations
After his departure from the Black Crowes, Ford formed a solo band, Marc Ford and the Uninvited, and continued to make live appearances in the United States for the rest of the year. In 1998, he sat in numerous times with renowned jam band Gov't Mule before joining the Chris Stills Band for a summer tour. Upon the conclusion of that tour, Ford quit the Chris Stills Band to form Federale, a joint venture between himself and Luther Russell (who were eventually joined by drummer Jimi Bott and bassist Freddy Trujillo). The band gained attention from major label Interscope Records, and a record deal was almost immediately in the works. Federale toured briefly, opening for acts like Gov't Mule, but disbanded after Interscope Records was bought out by Universal Music Group and their commercial viability was called into question.
During 2000, Ford joined the Pink Floyd/blues jam/tribute band Blue Floyd, which originally featured Allen Woody (guitar, bass), Matt Abts (drums), Johnny Neel (keyboards) and Berry Oakley Jr. (bass). Providing their own bluesy take on Pink Floyd standards, Blue Floyd was a great success and allowed Ford to remain the public eye while he contemplated his next move.
Ford left Blue Floyd at the close of 2001, opting to again to go solo. In January 2002, during one of his many regular appearances at the Malibu Inn in Malibu, California, Ford welcomed Chris Robinson to the stage for a set of obscure-yet-memorable covers. This performance marked the first time Ford and Robinson had performed with one another since Ford's dismissal from the Black Crowes nearly five years prior. Robinson again joined Ford at the Malibu Inn two weeks later, confirming that they had made amends. Ford co-wrote "Sunday Sound," a track featured on Robinson's solo debut, New Earth Mud.
Following his acoustic-based stint at the Malibu Inn, Ford decided to form a full-fledged electric band. Featuring fellow Blue Floyd member Berry Oakley Jr. (bass) and newcomers Gootch (drums) and Chris Joyner (keys), Marc Ford and The Sinners hit the road in early 2002. During the tour, Ford often took time out (with and without The Sinners) to record tracks for his highly anticipated debut effort entitled It's About Time, which was released on Anko Records in the fall of 2002.
In 2003, Marc Ford and The Sinners gained some helpful attention from country rock singer Lucinda Williams, who became somewhat of an ambassador for the group. She secured the band a deal with Lost Highway Records, and Ford began finalizing his material for the sessions.
This deal did not come to be, however, as the band's representative at the label was fired and things subsequently fell through. The Sinners still had an opening slot on Lucinda Williams' ongoing tour, a slot that was fairly open-ended. Without a label backing them up, however, it was almost financially impossible for The Sinners to hit the road. Instead, Ford accepted an invitation to join Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, relegating The Sinners to an indefinite hiatus.
Ford toured with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals for the majority of 2003, from which their live EP Live at the Hollywood Bowl was drawn. Ford continued his association with Ben Harper and his band through the close of 2004, featuring on Harper's collaboration with The Blind Boys of Alabama, There Will Be a Light, when he was called to rejoin The Black Crowes for their "All Join Hands" reunion run.
Black Crowes reunion
After a three-year hiatus, the Robinson brothers reformed the Black Crowes in early 2005 for a series of gigs and (later) a new album. In March 2005, it was announced that Marc Ford would be returning to the lead guitar spot. Ford never severed his ties with Harper, however, appearing on his 2006 album Both Sides of the Gun and performing a handful of shows in support while an active member of The Black Crowes.
Ford toured with the Black Crowes through the summer of 2006. Despite some new songs being debuted during live performances, no new studio material was released. On September 5, 2006, two days before he was due to hit the road for the fall leg of the ongoing Black Crowes reunion tour, Ford's lawyer notified the Black Crowes management via fax that, effective immediately, the guitarist would no longer be a member of the band. The following day, Ford put out a press release announcing that he had left the Crowes in order to protect his hard-fought sobriety, and that he had recently produced albums for emerging artists the Pawnshop Kings and Ryan Bingham.
Ford confirmed in a November 2006 interview with Hittin' the Note magazine that he is contractually prohibited from discussing his time in the Black Crowes during the period of 2005-2006. In a later interview with the magazine, Ford revealed that this contractual limitation was "in perpetuity."
Shortly after his sudden departure from the Black Crowes, Ford reunited with his Burning Tree bandmates for three gigs at the King King in Hollywood, California. Following the impromptu dates, Ford enlisted Doni Gray as his bandmate, along with Muddy and his son Elijah Ford, for a new studio album he had begun preproduction on. Touted by the guitarist as a more guitar-based recording, Weary and Wired was released on March 13, 2007 on Shrapnel Records' subdivision Blues Bureau. Coinciding with the release of Weary and Wired was Ford's feature interview on the cover of jam-band oriented music magazine Hittin' the Note (Issue #52).
Throughout 2007 Ford hit the road in support of his new album, with bandmates Mark "Muddy" Dutton, Elijah Ford and new drummer Dennis Morehouse. The tour found the band performing across the United States, as well as select dates in Spain, Germany, Russia and at a handful of European festivals. During later dates on the tour, Ford unveiled as many as six new songs, hinting at another album on the way. The tour continued through the end of 2007, when Ford took a short break.
Early in 2008, Ford played sporadic shows on the West Coast, some with his Fuzz Machine band and some with a new venture, Jefferson Steelflex. Ford and his son Elijah joined Ryan Bingham for several dates on his tour, performing songs from the Ford-produced album Mescalito. Ford played slide guitar on Bingham's appearances on The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O'Brien in the summer of 2008.
Ford produced Steepwater Band's next studio effort, an LP tentatively titled Grace & Melody released in November 2008, at Compound Studios in Signal Hill, California (recording began in the first week of May 2008). Ford first met the Chicago-based power trio when their bands shared a festival bill in Bilbao, Spain (in the summer of 2007). Ford joined the band on stage to jam on a pair of songs including a cover of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer", following a sit-in by his bandmate/son Elijah. Steepwater Band subsequently provided support for Ford's headlining gig at the Double Door in Chicago on July 26, 2007; this time Jeff Massey and Tod Bowers (of Steepwater Band) joined Ford's band for their encore. Soon after, Ford approached the trio about producing their next effort.
In early August 2008, it was announced (via his record label) that Ford's new record would be available online and in stores on September 23, 2008. Entitled Marc Ford and the Neptune Blues Club, the record features entirely new material performed by the newest incarnation of Ford's band the Neptune Blues Club (himself on guitars and vocals, Mike Malone on keyboards and vocals, Anthony Arvizu on drums, Bill Barrett on harmonica and John Bazz on upright bass). This latest version of his band is a slight reconfiguration of the Jefferson Steelflex band, which had performed earlier in the year prior to Ford's short stint with Ryan Bingham.
During the latter part of 2008, Ford took up playing lead guitar at the Vineyard Community Church in Laguna Niguel, California. Via that gig, He produced and contributed guitar work to Vineyard Music artist Chris Lizotte's album, Signal Hill Revival, released in early 2009. Ford's association with both the church and Lizotte continues to the present day.
In early 2009, it was rumored that the Neptune Blues Club was working on its second record at Compound Studios. However, Ford's deal with Shrapnel Records' subsidiary Blues Bureau had expired after 2008's Neptune Blues Club, and by mid-2009 it seemed that the Neptune Blues Club had expired with it. One sole track from the sessions, "Shalomar Dreams," was released via online distributor BandCamp.com; it remains the only material released from the second album sessions to date.
In May 2009, it was revealed that Ford would be joining the touring band for blues artist Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. & the MG's fame). Ford was confirmed as the guitarist for June through September 2009.
In the fall of 2009, Ford launched a download site to showcase and facilitate the sale of his archive of soundboard recordings from his solo work. The shows released thus far focus entirely on the Neptune Blues Club. It is unclear if the site will cover other eras of Ford's solo career.
In February 2010, Ford released his fourth studio album, Fuzz Machine, featuring material recorded while on a touring break in the fall of 2007 with the band of the same name. The album's release coincided with Ford's mini-tour of Spain, on which he utilized the Steepwater Band as his backing band. The tour prompted the launch of a new website for Ford, the central theme of which is based around the Fuzz Machine recording. The album was exclusively available at all of Ford's performances on the mini-tour, followed by online distribution in November.
After producing Phantom Limb's The Pines album, Ford asked the band to return the favor by backing his own solo project. He signed with the Naim record label in the UK to release his next album, Holy Ghost on 14 April 2014. He announced the new album in Country Music magazine.
In 2015, Ford played on his friend, singer songwriter Craig Helmreich's, record (It's Just Craig's Blood On the Table) which was recorded with John Vanderslice at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco. Ford and Vanderslice hit it off, and in early 2016, Ford returned to Tiny Telephone to record his latest, The Vulture, released in 2016.
The Magpie Salute
The Magpie Salute played their first official live shows in New York over four consecutive nights in January 2017 at the Gramercy Theatre. This was followed by four consecutive nights in London at the Under the Bridge venue in Chelsea, from 12 April 2017 to 15 April 2017. Next was a string of dates in the Netherlands, Germany June and July. From the end of July to September they played in the US, including the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in Telluride, Colorado and KAABOO DEL MAR in Delmar, San Diego, from September 15 to 17.
On June 9, 2017, the Magpie Salute released their self-titled album via Eagle Rock Entertainment.
On May 18, 2018, Ford played his first full solo acoustic show at the Thunder Road Club. This was a benefit show to raise money for a local food pantry and the Ayer Masonic Association. An unreleased the Magpie Salute song, "Lost Boy", was played for the first time (as an encore). The song is expected to be released in 2019. It was not included in the audio recording of Ford's set, which is available on etree.org.
On June 4, 2018, the Magpie Salute's debut studio album, High Water I, was announced to be available worldwide August 10, 2018. It is set for release on Eagle Rock (North America), Mascot Label Group (Europe, Australia, New Zealand) and Sony (Japan).
On June 11, 2018, Ford and Rich Robinson played a private event in Old Lyme, Connecticut. During the acoustic show, they played 11 songs, a number of which were from High Water 1.
- It's About Time (Anko Records, 2003)
- Weary and Wired (Blues Bureau, 2007)
- Marc Ford and the Neptune Blues Club (Blues Bureau, 2008)
- Fuzz Machine (BandCamp, 2010)
- Holy Ghost (Naim Label, 2014)
- The Vulture (2016)
With Burning Tree
- Burning Tree (Epic Records, 1990)
With the Black Crowes
- The Black Crowes - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (American Recordings, 1992)
- The Black Crowes - Amorica (American Recordings, 1994)
- The Black Crowes - Three Snakes and One Charm (American Recordings, 1996)
- The Lost Crowes (Rhino, 2006), containing the previously unreleased studio albums
- Tall (1993)
- Band (1997)
- Freak 'n' Roll...Into the Fog (CD/DVD) with the Black Crowes (Eagle Vision, 2006)
With Ben Harper
- Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals - Live at the Hollywood Bowl EP (Virgin Records, 2003)
- Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals - Live at the Hollywood Bowl (DVD; Virgin Records, 2003)
- Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama - There Will Be a Light (Virgin Records, 2004)
- Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama - Live at the Apollo (Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama) (Virgin Records, 2004)
- Ben Harper and the Blind Boys Of Alabama - Live At The Apollo (DVD) (Virgin Records 2004)
- Both Sides of the Gun (Virgin Records, 2006)
With The Magpie Salute
- The Magpie Salute - Live (Eagle Rock Entertainment 2017)
- The Magpie Salute - High Water I (Eagle Rock Entertainment 2018)
Collaborations and tributes
- The Scarecrows - The Scarecrows featuring Marc Ford (David Pedroza Music, 1988; released 2005)
- Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds - Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds (Geffen Records, 1992)
- Thee Hypnotics - The Very Crystal Speed Machine (American Recordings, 1994)
- The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers - Pacific Coast Rambler (Creek Dippers, 1998)
- Gov't Mule - Live... With a Little Help from Our Friends (Capricorn Records, 1999)
- Scott Thomas - Lovers and Thieves (Halfpipe Records, 2003)
- Songs From the Material World: A Tribute to George Harrison (Koch Records, 2003)
- Ariel Belont - Let's Rock (Dreamland Music, 2007)
- Ryan Delmore - The Spirit, the Water, and the Blood (Varietal Records, 2008)
- It's Just Craig (Craig Helmreich) - Blood On the Table (MRL Indiana, LLC., 2015)
- It's Just Craig (Craig Helmreich) - Dark Corners (MRL Indiana, LLC., 2017)
As a producer
- PawnShop Kings - Locksley (Owen Brothers Publishing, 2007)
- Ryan Bingham - Mescalito (Lost Highway, 2007)
- Steepwater Band - Grace and Melody (Diamond Day Records, 2008)
- Chris Lizotte - Signal Hill Revival (Varietal Records, 2008)
- Ryan Bingham - Road House Sun (Lost Highway, 2009)
- Jonny Burke - Distance and Fortune (Bandcamp, 2011)
- Phantom Limb - The Pines (2012)
- Republique du Salem - Republique du Salem (2015)
- "Burning Tree: Information from". Answers.com. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "17 May 1991 @ Chicago, IL". Crowesbase.com. 1991-05-17. Archived from the original on 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "18 May 1991 @ Milwaukee, WI". Crowesbase.com. 1991-05-18. Archived from the original on 2016-01-15. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "O.C. Guitarist to Join Rock's Black Crowes". LaTimes.com. 1991-11-16. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- "The Magpie Salute Reunites One of Rock's Great Guitar Duos: Marc Ford and Rich Robinson". LaWeekly.com. 2017-09-11. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
- [dead link]
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine (2002-10-22). "New Earth Mud - Chris Robinson | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "Marc Ford Quits Crowes On Jambase". Jambase.com. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "Amazon.com: Grace and Melody: The Steepwater Band: MP3 Downloads". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
- "Grace and Melody - The Steepwater Band - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards - AllMusic". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2015-01-02.
- [dead link]
- "Music | Marc Ford & the Neptune Blues Club". Theneptunebluesclub.bandcamp.com. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "Marc Ford Joins Booker T. Jones' Touring Band". Swampland. 2009-05-16. Retrieved 2014-06-04.
- "Rich Robinson Forms Magpie Salute With Ex-Black Crowes Members". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 June 2018.