Mark Goldenberg is a guitarist and composer who has played on records for a myriad of artists including Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Eels, Natalie Imbruglia,Chris Isaak, Ringo Starr, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Peter Frampton, Manolo Garcia, Joan Baez and William Shatner. He played lead guitar for Jackson Browne from 1994 - 2010. From 2012-2014 he toured with acclaimed pianist and actor Hugh Laurie. In 2016 he played with Spanish superstar Manolo Garcia.
He is also a songwriter and producer, whose works have been recorded by Linda Rondstat, Chicago, Pointer Sisters, Natalie Imbruglia, Eels, Chris Botti, and Olivia Newton John, among others.
During the 1980’s Mark released four albums of instrumental music in Japan. He released his first self titled CD of solo guitar music in 2004. In 2015 Mark and guitarist Eric Skye released a recording of duo music: “Artifact”. Mark, along with noted drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist Jennifer Condos released “trio” a collection of instrumental pieces.
Running on Passion: Jackson Browne
Embedded on the Frontline with the Leader of the Guitar-Geek Nation
By John Thomas
Sidebar: Mark Goldenberg
Mark Goldenberg leans forward as if to place on the table his Guitar Geek Nation member-in-good standing card. “Well,” he says, eyes gleaming, “I was on the hunt for a vintage Gibson L-00.” He took advantage of the Browne tour itinerary and haunted guitar shops in destination cities whenever he could find the time. In New York City, he made his way to Brooklyn’s Retrofret, where he found a number of good-sounding L-00s. “I was close to pulling the trigger on one of them,” he recounts, when his eyes landed on a 1930s Gibson L-5. “Within three chords, it was ‘game over.’” Like any respectable member of guitar obsessed community, Goldenberg knew that he would have to move something from his current collection to make room for the new acquisition. Although he managed to hang on to his trusty 1952 Telecaster, 1965 Epiphone Howard Roberts, and 1955 Les Paul Junior, he did have to shed a “guitar or two” to cover the price tag of that L-5. “But, I know,” he says with a smile, “that this one is gonna be good.” Goldenberg, you see, had been listening to a lot of early jazz like Eddie Lang and Karl Kress. “In some ways,” he says, “It’s a better choice for me than a flattop.” Goldenberg’s music does tend toward the jazzy. “Plus,” he adds with a laugh, “It’s a ‘30s L-5. I’m going to go get a haircut and put on a tux and play this thing in style!”
Goldenberg has both chops and knowledge to put that L-5 to good use. He studied for a decade with Ted Greene, the man anointed in, ironically, his obituary in the Los Angeles Times as the “living encyclopedia of the guitar.” “He was the most unassuming guitarist I have ever seen,” says Goldenberg. “He just didn’t get the ‘performer gene’ and didn’t want to perform; he wanted to teach.” Goldenberg recalls Greene’s occasional, low-key gigs in restaurants where Green would literally sit “behind the swinging kitchen door.” Most memorable may have been the party played for an audience made up almost entirely of guitarists. When Greene started to play, “We all stopped talking and turned to watch. Ted got really nervous and actually stopped playing and asked people not to watch him but to continue talking.”
Goldenberg, who has performer DNA to spare, has played sessions with performers to numerous to mention, gigged with Al Stewart, Wendy Waldman, and Peter Frampton, among others,, and had his songs covered by Linda Ronstadt. He met Browne in the 1980s when doing session work at Browne’s studio. The two first played together on Browne’s 1993 CD, I’m Alive, on which Goldenberg waxed the beautiful solos on the title track and on Sky Blue and Black. Goldenberg then joined Browne on the tour to support the CD and has been on “nearly every tour with him since then.”
Browne verily glows when speaking of Goldenberg. “Mark is an incredible composer. He plays some solos pretty much the same every night. I never tire of sharing that. It’s like a well composed classical piece. But, he can also reliably, totally improvise and play something that you’ve never heard before.”
This is the first time Goldenberg and Lindley have played together. “I’m having a great time playing with David,” Goldenberg reports. “Our playing intersects on certain levels, but not on others, so our styles are complimentary.” And, has Lindley influenced Goldenberg? “Well, he’s got me playing the oud now, which is really mind blowing!”
Speaking of mind blowing, check out the range of Goldenberg’s playing. First, catch him live, if you can. When not on tour with Browne or doing session work, he plays in Paula Cole’s band and, when time permits, performs both solo and with Neo Cuarto, a Latin jazz trio that includes the sensational Guatemalan singer Gaby Moreno. Then, get thee to Goldenberg’s website: http://www.markgoldenberg.com/ Check out the video of Neo Cuarto and then click on the two free tracks from Goldenberg’s eponymous, stellar, solo fingerstyle CD, Ten and Bring. This is hands down my current favorite solo acoustic CD. The tunes are gorgeous, inventive, and always surprising. Once you’ve digested the two free tracks and the guilt kicks in, do Goldenberg and yourself a favor by purchasing the CD from iTunes. As Browne has put it, the CD, like all of Goldenberg’s music, is “powerful, graceful, [and] deeply melodic.”
Here’s to hoping that Goldenberg dons his tux and puts that “new” L-5 to good use by recording a follow-up CD, soon!