Written by James Killen
Mark Abrahams has been hanging around music for fifty years or more in Central Texas and has had some tunes stewing on the back of the stove, it seems, for a good portion of that time. He attended a songwriting workshop in 2015 with Walt Wilkins and Kevin Welch where things started to come together. He finally took them out for a spin during SWRFA in 2017. His lyrical perspective and rambling guitar style caught the attention of a number of artists at the event and before you knew it Mark was recording “Matinee” with Walt Wilkins.
Walt brought in Warren Hood on fiddle, Geoff Queen on pedal steel, Julie Carter on cello and Libby Koch to round it out on harmony vocals. They all pitch in to put a soundtrack to Mr. Abraham’s gravelly voice telling stories from the rural recent history of Texas. Mark’s guitar work is simple and true, tugging at the listener’s sleeve to come on along.
What really makes the songs on this disc stand out are the artist’s imagery, every bit as vivid as a Grandma Moses painting from the opening song “Lost in the Light” about Mark’s grandparents, to the last track about that old country route to salvation, “Heaven’s Back Door”. He brings out the images of a church social in the country town hall, complete with the bachelor preacher, on “Henry’s Violin”. There is a code to live one’s life by espoused in “Centerline” and a man’s conscience depicted in “Mama’s Eyes”. You can smell fried chicken cooking in the kitchen on “Simple Days in Texas”. Mark uses the road allegory for life on “West Texas Blues”. The songs flow one to the other in natural conversational patterns.
Maybe I relate to Mark’s songs a little more than some, because they remind me of my own early life in rural Texas. I, too, grew up in the time and place of red letter Bibles, old men playing dominoes in the courthouse yard, and walking along the railroad tracks looking for dewberries. “Matinee” brings all of those memories rushing back in. If you get the chance, give it a listen and settle back in with the memories.