Guitar duo Loren and Mark appropriately open Darke County Center for the Arts’ 2016-17 “Connections” Artists Series season at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Sept. 24; Loren Barrigar and Mark Mazengarb epitomize the art of connecting. They met while spending a few days working with guitar wizard Tommy Emmanuel at guitar great Jorma Kaukonen’s (Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna) Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp in 2005. Although Mark was just a college kid at the time and Loren was already a seasoned performer who at age 6 had played at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, they connected.
Their backgrounds could not have been more different. New Zealand native Mark Mazengarb was majoring in classical guitar performance when he traveled to the University of North Carolina as an exchange student, discovering and connecting to Bluegrass and the thumb-picking techniques pioneered by Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Loren Barrigar first picked up the guitar at age 4, and in his younger years toured the country extensively with his family band. Constantly in demand as a studio musician, he has recorded for multiple award-winning producers and performed with some of the best acoustic players in the world.
Although they kept in touch after that first meeting, Loren and Mark didn’t really start playing together until they met up again at Nashville’s Chet Atkins Guitar Festival in 2010, where their performance really connected with the audience, earning a standing ovation and launching their performing partnership. In the ensuing years, they have toured extensively in this country, as well as internationally. Their continuing link with Tommy Emmanuel has proved beneficial to their career, with their on-stage appearances opening for the Australian superstar winning new fans around the world.
The chemistry connecting these two skilled musicians spills over to their audiences, who become involved in the exchange of vibrant energy, exponentially enlarging the experience for all concerned. “We really bounce off each other live on stage, and the audience can perceive it,” Mark says. “We have a great time playing guitar with each other, and that joy and fun is infectious and transmits to the audience,” he explains.
Their eclectic set-list is interspersed with entertaining verbal exchanges between the two friends, keeping audiences delighted throughout a show that may include songs made famous by Elvis Presley, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Willie Nelson, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as well as original tunes. Loren and Mark breathe life and energy into every performance, creating magic that spills out into the audience and lives on, keeping the connection vibrantly alive long after the show ends.
Tickets for the concert by Loren and Mark cost $20 and are half price for students. To connect with great music, connect with DCCA at www.centerforarts.net or by calling 937-547-0908.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.