A Casual Interview with Mark Dunn
By: Trevor Lesage
Mark Dunn describes himself as, “just an ordinary guy.” This façade was quickly torn down after a simple conversation with Mark. He is a local writer, musician, and professor at Sault College. I had the pleasure of being his student, listening to his music, and watching him perform. He’s truly the embodiment of Sault Ste. Marie’s hidden-in-plain-sight music scene.
Mark Dunn describes himself as, “just an ordinary guy.” This facade was quickly torn down after a simple conversation with Mark. He is a local writer, musician, and professor at Sault College. I had the pleasure of being his student, listening to his music, and watching him perform. He’s truly the embodiment of Sault Ste. Marie’s hidden-in-plain-sight music scene.
Mark has been playing guitar for 36 years and performing for 30. When he started making music, Mark needed a way to remember the songs he was making -- he couldn’t, and still can’t, read sheet music. Instead he chose to record. While he knows the chords to his songs, collaborating with others can be difficult at times because of this aspect. With that said, he does tell his students and other aspiring musicians, “Do study if you’re serious about music." Mark describes his method of playing music as “cheating.” Quite simply, he follows along on the melody and goes into higher or lower notes as the sheet demands.
He plays music which he describes as “contemporary folk,” “singer/songwriter,” and “folk rock.” Mark has recently produced his 9th album titled, “The River Lately.” On his website, he claims that it’s only the 9th if you don’t count his previous tapes and EP’s that have been lost to time.
In relation to the Sault’s Music Scene, Mark had both good and bad things to say during our conversation. He explained that, “It’s for all kinds of musicians and writers. There are a lot of newcomers, mostly youth and a lot of talent with it.” In addition to this, during the interview he praised Algoma University and the Conservatory for opening up positions for musicians, stating, “It’s very vibrant and interesting to say the least. It's a good time, a great time. And there are a ton of people promoting it.” Amongst these compliments, he did not withhold his criticisms of the Sault’s music scene. To paraphrase, Mark’s criticism is that there is a lack of interest, in spite of a supportive audience. In order to be in the Sault’s music scene, it's easy, he said. Sticking to it is the hard part.
In addition to being a musician, Mark is a published author, having written three small books filled with poetry. In his words, he said, “I don’t write a lot of fiction. I’m not effective at it. I just happen to write songs, poems, and journalism.” He went on to explain, “Writing is integral to who I am. Not like breathing, no. And I never really set out to make a living out of it. I did at one point, but that’s a whole other story.” Mark describes his poetry as an, “Expression of himself, his interaction of reality, and reflection upon it.”
Mark’s newest album is available on his website mddunn.com. See this website if you wish to learn more about Mark, his music, and his writing. You may also contact Mark directly from this website.