From: NM, United States
Genre: Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Americana
We are Desert Blend, Mark Courtney and Lauren Michaels. We write and sing our own and other writers' songs that come out of traditional and contemporary folk music, blues, bluegrass, Celtic, cowboy, country and popular music. We play guitar, ukulele and Djembe drum.
Mark Courtney: I write my own songs and sing others from traditions of Americana, Canadian, Celtic, along with some blues, bluegrass, cowboy, country and popular. I play guitar and enjoy singing solo and in small groups. In addition to the exciting musical direction Lauren Michaels and I are taking with Desert Blend, I’m also in a Las Cruces trio (East Mesa, www.eastmesaband.com). We released our first CD last year. I also released my own CD (I Wish I’d Known) with all original songs last year (www.markcourtneymusic.com).
At heart I’m a folkie. I like the Zen aspect of folk music. You can write a folk song and maybe own it for a few years. But if it’s a real folk song, it’s never really yours. It changes over time and becomes the property of everybody who pulls over to listen. And then changes to suit their own style, stage of life, meaning.
Influences: Stan Rogers, John Gorka, Ian Tyson, Danny Doyle, Joan Baez, David Wilcox, Peter Paul & Mary, John Denver, Simon & Garfunkel, Odetta, Jean Redpath, Guy Clark, Eric Bogle, Jayne Morgan, Dick Haymes, Jim Croce, Dan Fogelberg, Bonnie Raitt, Andres Segovia, Carlos Montoya, Eva Cassidy, Tommy Makem, Patricia Murray, Connie Caldor, Bill Hearne, Keb’ Mo’, Tish Hinojosa, Larry Sparks, Ralph Stanley, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, EmmyLou Harris, Alison Moorer, Townes Van Zandt, Loreena McKennitt. and probably just as many that I’ve not thought of.
Lauren Michaels: My love of music and theater began at an early age. I grew up in Chicago at a time when Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson &the Miracles were playing small, intimate clubs. Chicago Transit Authority was performing regularly at a place called The Cellar. John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Dan Ackroyd and other gifted artists calling themselves The Second City Players were honing their skills in Old Town. The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and Baba Olatundje released his Drums of Passion album. It was a time and place rich with music that provided a beautiful and varied soundtrack for my life during those years and which sparked my interest in performing.
I left Chicago in 1968, and for the next 10 years I traveled through the South and Southwest also living for a time in Taiwan and Japan. During those years I worked off and on as a model and performance artist. In 1978, I made Southern California my home. During my years there, I was fortunate enough to perform in a variety of venues with talented and interesting artists, e.g., I performed with an environmental theater group, led worship at a local church, sang rock and roll with The Sand Canyon Band, wrote and performed a musical for children (The Boy Who Lived with Dragons). Since moving to Las Cruces in 2005, I have performed regularly with Bob and Melody Burns in a folk trio as Burns, Burns & Michaels, with Bob Burns and the SophistIcated Swing Combo, and most recently with Mark Courtney in our duo, Desert Blend.
My influences are (to name a few): Joni Mitchell, Kurt Elling, Chet Baker, Phoebe Snow, Baba Olatundje, Susan Osborne, Johnny Hartman, Mark Murphy