Is Mark Stoffel best thought of as a creative, sophisticated mandolin player or as a composer of creative, sophisticated tunes? The answer, of course, is “yes,” and the latest proof can be heard on his latest single for Mountain Home Music Company, “Barnyard Funk.”
Backed by some of his favorite friends and colleagues — bassist Ross Sermons, former Chris Jones & the Night Drivers bandmate Gina Furtado (banjo), Irish fiddler Niall Murphy, Chris Luquette (guitar) and ace studio drummer Tony Creasman — Stoffel serves up an earworm that opens with and periodically returns to an irresistibly rhythm-forward passage, seamlessly incorporated into a more traditionally structured two-part tune.
As the spotlight moves from player to player — even Sermons gets a moment out front — the tune insinuates itself into the listener’s memory, echoing generations of simmering soul classics and bluegrass favorites in a distinctive blend. From its opening pulses to the virtuoso unison arpeggios that bring it to an exciting end, “Barnyard Funk” highlights both aspects — composing and playing — of Stoffel’s talent.
“I caught the Bluegrass bug at age 14,” recalls Stoffel, “but before that, I was heavily exposed to soul and disco music thanks to my dad, who was a hobby disc jockey in the late 1970s. Well, I suppose some of it must have rubbed off on me, and I am proud of it! I certainly hope you’ll enjoy this funky little piece. Also, special thanks to my friend Marshall Wilborn who helped me come up with the title, ‘Barnyard Funk’!”
"Barnyard Funk" is streaming in Dolby Atmos spatial audio on Apple Music, Amazon Music and TIDAL. Listen to it HERE.
About Mark Stoffel
Originally from Munich, Germany, Mark Stoffel spent literally decades traversing between two continents before finally settling down in Southern Illinois in 2001 with his wife Mary and his children, Finn and Oliver. Sealing his decision to make the United States his permanent home, he became a citizen in 2016.
A self-described bluegrass music “addict,” he was introduced to the music in 1979, when as a teenager, he wanted a ukulele for Christmas and was mistakenly given a mandolin instead. The flub turned into a virtue, as he parlayed a classic mandolin instructional book; occasional exposure to bluegrass through radio and concerts by touring American musicians; and accumulated experience in folk, rock and bluegrass bands into a lifelong artistic pursuit. During this time, he began to connect with American artists, helping to arrange tour dates and providing hospitality—including to the artist who would become his future employer, Chris Jones. As he spent more time in the United States, his tasteful approach to playing, growing expertise in sound engineering and supportive harmony vocal abilities earned him increased attention — first in regional acts, then with Jones’ singer/songwriter wife, Sally Jones, and finally with Jones himself, whose Night Drivers Mark joined around the time of the band’s 2009 recording, Cloud Of Dust.
Today his tasteful mandolin performances can be heard on countless recordings, including his first solo release, One-O-Five, and a string of Chris Jones and the Night Drivers projects, including Run Away Tonight (2015), Made To Move (2017) and the most recent, The Choosing Road (2019). “Mark is one of the most musical mandolin players I’ve ever played with,” says Jones. “ Mandolin players are really impressed with his playing everywhere we go.” Yet despite his passion for bluegrass, Stoffel confesses ironically that he is highly allergic to — yes, really — Kentucky Bluegrass