AKA: Womby; AKA Marcus O’Reallyus AKA Romboutus
There’s a warm smile across my face as I think about this next artist. Not only does he qualify for one of the incredible creative souls that I have had the honour of playing alongside, but he also qualifies as one of a small circle of people that I would genuinely mark as close friends over the last 20 years.
Indeed Mark & I met 20+ years ago, playing in the church band at what was then called Mt Evelyn Christian Fellowship. This was all part of a new experience of church that Bernadette & I were exploring. Mark played harmonica, and my word could he play. We stood on the platform next to each other on that Sunday morning, which gave me a close up view of his playing skill. To say I was impressed would be to grossly understate things. His sensitivity to the moment was remarkable, and something that in the ensuing years I would call on time & time again. As the years rolled on and the friendship grew I soon learned that he was/is a bonafide multi instrumentalist. He played guitar, bass, keyboard, a huge assortment of Irish whistles and also the mandolin.
It wasn’t long before we were playing in a band with some other good friends, and our style was very much shaped by the unique sounds and feel that Mark brought to the table. (More about that band in the coming weeks.) I would watch people enthralled with his playing as he would navigate his way through our gigs. He would almost always have someone corner him after a gig asking all about his Irish whistles in particular.
I loved making music with him. Although the opportunities aren’t as frequent these days, I still cherish any day that we still get to make music. Our friendship is more than that though. I love him like a brother. Our friendship has well stood the test of time. He has been so patient with me; he has always encouraged me like no other. We have had many many deep discussions about faith, life, music and of course Marks love and compassion for Africa. I stood next to him as he married his beloved Frida. What an honour that was. Mark is probably the epitome of why I am writing these articles. Were it not for music, we probably wouldn’t have crossed paths. Yet since that moment when the music allowed us to collaborate, I have had the joy of discovering the depth of character of this unique individual.
Sometime back in pre- pandemic land, Mark asked me if I could help him to record an album of his harmonica tracks. Of course the answer was always going to be yes. The journey from beginning and the end was marked by all manner of roadblocks, but we endured. The end result is an amazing testimony to the skill of this man. Watch out for when he releases it. For now, if you are reading this and wondering what on earth I am talking about, have a click on these links for a free listen to 2 pieces that Mark recorded for me some years ago now.
The first one is called “Tell Me” from the album called “Reality”. It features some killer blues harp.
The second is a piece that Mark & I wrote called “evenings end” from my “Twilight waltz album. This will showcase his skill on the Irish whistle.
Leave a note, especially on you know & appreciate Marky.
Mark my friend, I hope these few words will be a blessing to you as they clumsily try to describe what a blessing you are to me