Tour Diary: Mark Wilkinson hits the road in the US – from New York for CMJ to recording in Los Angeles

Mark Wilkinson made his U.S. debut in 2013 on the heels of his second studio album, Let The River Run, hitting #1 on iTunes singer-songwriter charts in Australia. Wilkinson returned to the U.S. this year for CMJ in New York and additional tour dates in Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Nashville, Atlanta, and studio recording in Los Angeles. Wilkinson shared with the AU this special tour diary looking back on his journey from coast to coast (and then some) of the Continental USA over the last couple of months…

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I started my second U.S. tour in Portland, Oregon this year – a new market for me, and a great way to start the tour. Portland is a really quirky, cool and laid back city. The first day I was there a local shouted out to me to “smoke on man!” and it was only later that I figured out he was probably celebrating that marijuana had been legalised a day before my arrival. I had a great gig down at the Portland Saturday Markets and it was really awesome to see a bunch of my fans at the show…thanks guys!

My second stop was San Francisco – A really cool vibrant city and always somewhere I’ve wanted to check out! I did a bunch of busking around the city and played a really cool little venue called Doc’s lab, which is a great place to catch an intimate show.

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I was excited to get back to Boston and Aussie-owned KO Pies at the Shipyard, where I played during my debut U.S. tour in 2013. The owner Sam has done a great job expanding the space to include outdoor seating and space for lawn games like cornhole. I didn’t know what cornhole was but it turned out to be a darn good way to warm up for a show! It was great to see a bunch of fans I’d met back in 2013, which made it a really special show for me. I had a few extra days in Boston, which gave me time to get some great busking in on Newbury Street and Copley Square and play tourist for a while. Some of my favorite spots to check out are Franklin Café in the South End (get the turkey meatloaf!), Committee in the Seaport for a boozy night out and Newbury Comics for records.

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What a great night back at Rockwood Music Hall! I made my New York debut in 2013 for CMJ on stage 1, and this year I returned to play stage 3, which was a blast. It’s a great room and the energy from the crowd was electric. Really looking forward to getting back there! There’s always so much going in NYC and it was great to have a few days to absorb the place and check out some of the great music at CMJ. A shout out to the Sounds Australia crew at the Aussie BBQ – they do such a great job of supporting Australian artists at international festivals, check them out at soundsaustralia.com.au. Oh and grab a street vendor hotdog while you’re in town…it’s your duty!

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It was great to return to SiriusXM studios, where I made my North American radio debut back in 2013. I was honored to hold the title of “Discovery of the Year” after just a few weeks of airplay, and this year I went back into their midtown studios to record a four-song set, including some new tracks from my upcoming releases. Stay tuned to Facebook.com/MarkWilkinsonMusic for air dates, and check out my favorite stations, Coffee House and Alt Nation, at siriusxm.com.

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It wasn’t all smooth sailing getting out of NYC – it took a couple of hours to get through check-in and security, and then I got stuck at the airport in Chicago overnight because of delays and a missed connection. Not ideal but at least I got to see a bit of Chicago…even if it was just the hotel airport! Luckily I made it to Music City in time to hit the stage the next afternoon at Musician’s Corner Nashville, which was a great intro to a really fun town. Musician’s corner is an awesome day of music in a beautiful park setting. I played on the Lightning100 stage, sponsored by a great local station. Check out MusiciansCornerNashville.com and Lightning100.com for more info.

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Nashville oozes music from every crack and corner and it was awesome to have a few days to put a face to the city I’d heard so much about. It’s quite strange but cool to be in a city where music is a ‘normal’ way of life. I don’t think I’ve felt that kind of atmosphere anywhere else. The food and social scene are great too and I found some local favorites like Husk, and Pinewood Social for some killer dinner, drinks and post-show bowling! Before taking off I had the pleasure of playing at the Basement East, a very cool venue and newer and larger version of the Basement, a venerated Nashville venue.

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The second to last stop on the 2015 tour was Atlanta, where I opened for singer-songwriter Noah Guthrie at Eddie’s Attic, in Duluth. I only had the one night in Atlanta unfortunately but it was worth the trip. It was a fantastic room with a great crowd. Noah and his band were awesome, I hope we get them over to OZ for a tour soon, check out his material at only1noah.com and make sure to check out Eddie’s Attic if you’re in Atlanta…really great place to catch some live music!

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Finally, I spent a few days in the studio with Tek Zen Music in Los Angeles working on a few tracks from my forthcoming 2016 release. I had a blast recording with Tek who has worked with some of the best in the world. We managed to record and co-write a bunch of new material and I’m really excited for it’s release next year. In the meantime, I’ll be releasing a special acoustic album Hand Picked Vol. 2 in December this year. I do a lot of solo acoustic gigs and this album is a great way to represent that live experience and provides a nice counter point to my albums with more embellished production.

If you’re an Aussie reading this you can catch the launch shows in Sydney from December 18 – 21. Find out more at MarkWilkinsonMusic.com and make sure to come say hi if you make it to a show!

So long, U.S.A., I’ll see you in the New Year!