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Published on Mar 20, 2012
Mark O'Connor's Hot Swing Trio on "Mountain Stage"
'In the Cluster Blues' written by Mark O'Connor
FZ: Hearing you play the blues on the violin seems so natural. How long have you been exploring the blues and what do you do or how do you accomplish that sound on the violin?
MOC: Since I was a kid, 11 years-old. I played the blues all the time on my fiddle, and older folks would say, "how is that boy playing the blues! I'll be darned!" The blues though is what I heard, or more to the point, what I felt. It spoke to how hard a time I had dealing with stuff. It felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I am quite serious given my family situation - raging alcoholic/abusive father, a dying mother and severe bullying at school. It was only my music that saved me my life, I can promise you that.
FZ: In this version of "In the Cluster Blues" you really go for it with the wails, screams, struggles...a lot of intensity!! Where do you find that inspiration, your childhood? Did you have to dig deep, and/or is there an experience you think about to create this kind of expression?
MOC: Well there is the childhood, which parts of it I will never escape completely. But some other very painful things have developed since then. The name of the tune... I named it "in the cluster." That is specific. Have you ever heard of cluster migraine? I have a chronic case, a curse really. The head pain comes in "clusters" and during those times, it is relentless pain. Look it up! Dubbed the suicide headache! I pray that no one experiences these. My ability to play this way like I do, is channeling the pain that I have and forcing it from myself. The screams, the wails. And then the loneliness of the melody at the end when the pain finally subsides. The blues is my autobiography and salvation. Overcoming great odds to make it and survive. Just to make music and please the others around me you know. That is what I was meant to do, and I needed that in my life.
Hot Swing Trio (2004) Mark O'Connor - Violin Frank Vignola - Guitar Jon Burr - Bass
For more information on Mark O'Connor, String Camps, The O'Connor Method, ensembles, repertoire, sheet music and more, please visit http://www.markoconnor.com