John Mark Nelson is a well-spoken frontman with the subtle charm of a cultured outdoorsman and a personal maturity far beyond his years. He was born in 1993 in a small, rural suburb outside of Minneapolis to a family of musicians who encouraged him to play at the young age of 14. Nelson became a talented multi-instrumentalist who began on drums and was accepted at McNally Smith College of Music's program before deciding to pursue the life of a touring musician full-time. He independently penned, recorded, and released his first full length, "Still Here" in 2011 at the age of 17. Nelson graduated from Minnetonka High School the next year and subsequently released his second full-length, "Waiting and Waiting" which premiered tracks on several local radio stations. His third full-length, "Sings the Moon," gained wide exposure through placement of the video, "The Moon and the Stars," on MTV. Though the album was recorded at the Library Recording Studio in Minneapolis and co-produced by Matt Patrick, Nelson kept to his independent core by funding the production budget through Kickstarter.
John Mark Nelson was signed to GRNDWIRE Records, a record label started by Mark Gehrig and Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles, in 2015 and released "I'm Not Afraid" the same year. His fourth LP was recorded as a full band in a "mostly live" fashion and showcases a distinctly different sound from previous work. Nelson's previous material was acoustic-guitar led, woodsy folk that featured a wide array of backing instrumentation including a string quartet. A change in palette led him to pursue catchy, 70's and 80's influenced rock that's loaded with experimental, rhythmic guitar hooks and vocal earworms. His slightly husky vocals are supported by keyboard player Kara Laudon's. Their uplifting call and response makes for varying textures within melodies that keep interest through multiple listens. The whole record feels connected and goal-oriented throughout, elevating Nelson's talents in songwriting and ability to recruit like-minded bandmates. "I'm Not Afraid" is a standout effort from a prolific songwriter whose career is truly just beginning.
Watch the band perform tracks from the newest album on Audiotree Live.
John Mark Nelson - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, and Lead Vocals