I had the good fortune to chat with Mark Karan last Sunday. Me on Martha’s Vineyard; he in Northern California. We talked about many things - his new CD “Walk Through the Fire”, his successful battle with throat cancer, playing lead guitar with Bobby Weir & RatDog and his spiritual approach to critical DeadHeads. He sounded at peace with life - I was touched by his gratitude for his health and the ability to play music. Mostly, he was psyched about finishing his new CD and to be jamming again this summer.
The new CD is great, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. One day, my favorite tune is “Easy Wind” and the next, it is “Walking Through the Fire” (a song about his experience with throat cancer - all profits from the track go to the Oral Cancer Foundation) and today, my favorite is “Time Will Tell” . A superb cast of musicians help MK on his CD - Delaney Bramlett (in his first posthumous release), The Persuasions, Bill Payne (Little Feat), Hutch Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt), Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship, Rod Stewart), Wally Ingram (Sheryl Crow, David Lindley, Stockholm Syndrome), Jackie LaBranch and Gloria Jones (Jerry Garcia Band) - to name a few. It also introduces “Jemimah Puddleduck” (JP), Mark’s collaboration over the last decade with John Molo (Phil Lesh & Friends) on drums, JT Thomas (Bruce Hornsby, Captain Beefheart) on keys, and Bob Gross (Albert King, Delaney Bramlett) on bass.
I will be airing my chat with Mark on July 7th’s Shakedown Stream, along with some of the tracks from “Walk Through the Fire.” You won’t wanna miss it. Mark details his struggle with the unremitting scrutiny he received from some DeadHeads. He dealt with constant criticism of his guitar playing and discussions about whether or not he was worthy of his slot in the lineup. I think Mark Karan has shown us that he is more than worthy, and he’s still standing - a rightful member of the Grateful Dead family. Mark has taught me a lesson: a tongue used unmindfully can become a sword. Before you speak, think: is it true, is it necessary, is it the right time, and most importantly...is it (are you) kind?