Mark 'Spanky' Gutierrez's Blog

It's Me.. Honest Its Me!!

Dallas, new CD, new DVD… 2011

Well 2011 has been a wild ride so far! The 4 strings of swing have produced a new CD and helped me to produce my first Ukulele Instructional DVD. We made our way out to Mike DaSilva’s for a great “Day in the Shop” and we wandered ourselves down south to the Dallas Ukulele Festival “Back to Bach”.

It has always been my belief that anything is possible. This little mantra of mine seems to have worked its way into my music as well. When Noel called us and said we want you to do some classical music, Heather’s first response was lets do some Opera! and the rest is history. We performed a piece called “O Mio Babbino Caro” from the opera Gianni Schicchi 1918. It was the highlight of the weekend for me. It was the accumulation of a life time of study and incomprehensible coordination between 3 people. Heather did the initial review of the score and gave JD and I a frame work to play in. After a few rehearsals we started discussing the intended harmonies and altered them a bit. Normally for a piece like this we would follow the conductor but sans conductor we follow Heather. She set the pace and the tone for the piece. It took JD and I some time to learn to follow instead of lead. Once we got the hang of it. The song took flight. It turned out to be a great work and the audience truly got to experience the depth of Heathers voice, a new facet for the ukulele, and the fullness that the upright bass brings. It was great to be a part of it.

The festival was a real success. There is still quite a bit of buzz on facebook. As a performer and teacher, I would have to say that it was an incredible weekend. Mike Lynch made a statement that rings so very true “the uke players here are surprisingly advanced” and it was very true. The students in texas were amazing they all seemed to be able to keep up with me and second guess the application of the lesson. It was wonderful to work with such enthusiastic folks.

The CD turned out great. I am very grateful to have gone to Hawaii this year. It inspired the title and a track on our new CD Molokai Morning. JD and Heather really spiced the tune up with their parts. JD even added a chord to the chorus and it made a huge improvement. The song was inspired by the rising sun over the island of Molokai. My bed faced the West and if I was not in time to see the sunrise, I could view it from my bunk. The whole experience was wonderful. The rest of the CD has tunes that are our favorites. We have been so lucky to have a regular gig at España (a little tapas bar in Omaha). Carlos the owner hires us once a month to play. This is where we get to hone our chops and learn to listen to each other. This might be one of our greatest strengths in my humble opinion. When you listen to your band mates and pick up on subtle changes in what they are doing … you get the chance to really collaborate. Any time we do this the tune always turns out bigger and better.

If you are interested in CD or DVD please check out


Mark ‘Spanky’ Gutierrez


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