Mark Olson (musician)

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Mark Olson
The Jayhawks 2009.05.30 008.jpg
Mark Olson, May 30, 2009
Background information
Born (1961-09-18) September 18, 1961 (age 54)
Origin US
Genres Folk, Americana, alt-country
Years active 1985–present
Labels HackTone Records
Associated acts The Jayhawks,
Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers
Website Official homepage page

Mark Olson (born September 18, 1961 in Minneapolis) is an American musician. He is one of the founding members of acclaimed alternative country bands The Jayhawks and The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers and a respected singer/songwriter in his own right.


Olson formed The Jayhawks in 1985 with singer/guitarist Gary Louris and was originally the principal singer/songwriter in the group. Along with Marc Perlman (bass) and Thad Spencer (drums), they released their eponymous debut album in 1986 through independent label Bunkhouse Records. The band were signed by Minneapolis label Twin/Tone in 1987 and released Blue Earth, which saw Louris sharing more songwriting and singing duties with Olson. It was this album that led the band to be signed by major label Def American - A&R representative and producer George Drakoulias is said to have heard Blue Earth playing in the background while on a phone call to Twin Tone in 1991 and signed the band later that year.

Their first album for Def American was the Drakoulias-produced Hollywood Town Hall in 1992. After a successful single, "Waiting for the Sun", and extensive touring the band went back in the studio and released the follow-up, Tomorrow the Green Grass in 1995, which yielded the radio hit "Blue". The same year Olson quit The Jayhawks to look after wife Victoria Williams after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and the band continued without him, releasing three more albums before going on hiatus in 2005.

For his post-Jayhawks career, Olson decided to return to his folk and country roots and with the help of Williams and multi-instrumentalist Mike "Razz" Russell, self-released the well-received album The Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers in 1997. The trio teamed up again for the 1998 album Pacific Coast Rambler and 1999's Zola and the Tulip Tree.

Mark Olson in Örebro, Sweden, October 23, 2010.

By 2000, Olson was confident enough to give an album his own name, releasing the autobiographical My Own Jo Ellen under Mark Olson And The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers. Two more albums recorded with The Creekdippers followed, December's Child in 2002 (which saw him reunited with Louris for the first time in seven years on the track "Say You'll Be Mine") and Mystic Theatre (which also featured Williams) in 2004. The same year saw the release of another Creekdippers album, Political Manifest.

After splitting from Williams in 2005, Olson paired up once again with Louris for two short tours in the winter of 2005 and the spring of 2006.[1] He released his acclaimed solo album, The Salvation Blues, in June 2007. The album, written while staying with Cardiff-based folk singer and writer Charlotte Greig and her novelist husband John Williams, was inspired by his divorce.[2][3]

After the release of The Salvation Blues, Olson toured all over the States and Europe with Italian violin player Michele Gazich and Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Ingunn Ringvold (Sailorine), playing djembe / percussion, piano and singing harmony vocals playing more than 300 shows together.

An album with Louris was released in November 2008 (January 2009 in the U.S.), produced by Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, called Ready for the Flood.[4]

In 2011 The Jayhawks reunited and recorded a new album. The lineup consists of Olson, Louris, Perlman, Karen Grotberg, and Tim O'Reagan, and, as Louris says, "Our goal is to make the best Jayhawks album that's ever been done". 18 songs had been recorded, 16 of them new, but only 12 will be on the record. The album, Mockingbird Time, was released September 20. The band toured in support.


With The Jayhawks[edit]

With The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers[edit]


With Gary Louris[edit]


External links[edit]