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Mark Paffrath's Biography


Pop/folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mark Paffrath has been charming audiences for over 25 years. From the concert and festival stage to your local bar and grill or coffeehouse, his thoughtfully chosen interpretations and well crafted original music are as much about his history as where he would like to be; as much about how the world is, as the way he’d like to see it. His observations, repartee and humor are self-deprecating but keen, quirky and refreshing. His command of vocal and instrumental skills is well honed from years of performing. Artists of his genuine sensitivity and caring are rare and often alienated or discouraged by the music business - but this is all he ’s ever wanted to do - and he’s doing it!

While he’s not fond of comparisons, his vocals have been called reminiscent of Kenny Loggins, Dwight Yoakam, John Denver and Lyle Lovett. (That’s some kind of hybrid!) And whether he’s flat-picking, finger-picking, or soloing, his rolling and percussive “big” guitar sound is not only due to the vintage Gibson he is so attached to but also to his many years as a drummer and mandolin player.

A performance by Mark Paffrath may leave listeners a little more aware of the foibles of the human condition, the ironies that life is made of, the difficulties and joys of living in this world, but may also leave them feeling just a little bit better about their part in all of it - and this alone is well worth the price of admission.

Not too long out of high school and still performing with a band formed during that period, Mark got an offer he couldn’t refuse - to be part of a tour (of undetermined length) of folk clubs and festivals in Germany with friend and Racine, WI native Don Owens. That was 1976, and he has been a full or part-time performer/musician ever since. After coincidently spending the 4th of July in a still “cold war” East Germany, and most of the U.S.A.’s bicentennial out of the country, he was beginning to long for all things American. So, somewhat reluctantly, he left the castles, autobahns, and the land of his forbearers behind to return stateside. Mark and Don released two recordings together (“In The Doorway” and “The Minstrelsinger”).

Over the next eight years, through the mid-1980s, Mark performed full time with the duo Paffrath & Dykhuis, releasing two recordings (“Everybody Knows” and “Listen”) and garnering a WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) award for “Best Folk Artists.” During this time he was also the drummer for the regionally popular R & B band Marvin & The Dogs, releasing one recording. During the end of the 1980s he performed with Julie Schroeder in the duo Moulin Rouge and released one recording (“Moulin Rouge”). For a short stint, in the early 1990s, he performed as a duo with Milwaukee's Willy Porter and occasionally with Willy’s band.

Mark and longtime friend and music collaborator Richard Holly performed on and off as a duo beginning in the early 1990s. In 1999 they released the CD "Rainbeat" which won the award for “Best CD” in a (Racine) Journal Times readers poll. They were also nominated for a WAMI in 2000 as “Best Folk Artists”. Mark has also been picked "Best String Player” for several years running in the (Racine) Journal Times poll.

From 1997 until 2000 Mark performed as mandolin, fiddle, acoustic and electric guitar player, as well as percussionist and vocalist in the Milwaukee based Zydeco band, Big Nick and the Cydecos. The band released two recordings during his tenure with them (“Honey Bee” and “Born Half Wild”).

Currently Mark is performing as a solo act, singing and playing guitar and mandolin. In the fall of 2001 he released an award winning CD called "Retrofix - Life's Journey With Musical Friends." It features music, original and borrowed, from many of the different groups he has performed with, plus one new original song produced by Joe Puerta of the group Ambrosia. In 2002 Mark "swept" his hometown music awards, winning the categories for “Best CD”
("Retrofix"), “Best Song” ("Forest Green Beret"), “Best Songwriter”, “Best Male Vocalist”, and “Best String Player."

Mark got another nice surprise in 2003 when he received the honor of being voted “Best Musician” in the “Best of Racine County” poll.

In early 2004 Mark completed his first solo release of all new material called “Soothe”. The CD (already receiving glowing reviews) features original material as well as thoughtfully chosen, time tested material from his live shows including songs by other songwriter pals and several favorite standards.

When not making music, Mark was the former coordinator and director of Racine County Project Emergency (now the Racine County Food Bank) for over 10 years (1986 - 1996). This organization is a United Way agency that provides emergency food to Racine area food pantries. He was also the past managing director of the Prairie Performing Arts Center Entertainment Series at the Prairie School in Racine from 1990-2002 and has his own music booking, management and publishing operation, New Leaf Music Enterprise. His interest in the area of human service also includes being a long-time founding board member of the Racine Emergency Shelter Task Force (REST) and a part time member of the formerly Racine, WI based Tim Hansen Project, a musical fundraising and hunger awareness
endeavor. He also serves as a founding member of the "Thoughts for Food™" organizing committee which annually produces Wisconsin’s largest one-night music extravaganza featuring local musicians in several near Northside and downtown Racine, WI establishments. The event raises funds and collects food for the Racine County Food Bank.

Mark and his wife Amanda now focus their time on their latest creation - raising their son Wesley. The remainder of their time is spent on Mark’s music career (www.markpaffrath.com) and Amanda’s retail bead store and art gallery, Funky Hannah’s (www.funkyhannahs.com), based in downtown Racine in the building that they renovated - oh, and on having some fun in any time left over!

Mark also collects vintage watches, loves James Bond movies, TV Land, Karmann Ghias, Studebakers, old Chryslers, stuff from the 1950s and 60s, time off and Dean Martin. His favorite color is green. He and his wife and son love summer and each other, have two cats, three fish and a dog and live on the West coast of Lake Michigan in Racine, Wisconsin.


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Mark Paffrath Home Mark Paffrath's Schedule Buy Mark Paffrath's CDs Mark Paffrath -- Sound Clips Coming Soon! Coming Soon!
Mark Paffrath's Biography
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