Welcome! This website showcases the music, and "wisdom" (such as it is) of Mark D. Hastings a performing songwriter and keyboardist from the greater Boston area. Mark is an adept pianist who blends Classical, New Age, Swing, and Boogie, into songs about life and relationships with this occasional wry, humorous observations thrown in.
9/20/23 - So disappointed that PlumFest was cancelled. It has been a bad year for outdoor gigs, so many getting rained out. Next year the organizers of PlumFest have promised to plan a rain date. Either way kudos to them for trying. It can't be easy to plan a 1 day event with over 50 bands, many hundreds of visitors, parking, shuttle busses etc...
Today I am a little anxious about the West Concord Porchfest. It looks like that might get rained out, and I am already booked on their rain date at the Andover North Farmers Market. At least the NAFM is really good about providing high quality canopies for everyone at their market. I've performed in many different situations. It is wonderful when the hosts of a venue make the effort to provide for their performers, and the safety of their equipment.
9/12/23 The past month has been filled with some great gigs and private events. I even managed to squeeze in a little vacation that included a trip to the top of Mt. Washington via the Cog Railway. The weather gods must have smiled on us as the visibility was fantastic, with views into Vermont, Maine, and the Atlantic ocean! Also got to spend some wonderful quality time with a bunch of old, old, old friends.
Today I am nervously watching the advance of Hurricane Lee. Given how many of my outdoor gigs have been rained out, this one looks particularly bad. The timing of Lee would seem to put it due East exactly when I am supposed to start performing in the delightful little place called Plum Island. (Emphasis on "island"... on the coast...) Fingers crossed that the storm moves far enough East to not be a bother. This is particularly upsetting because Currier Square has invited me to sit in with them for a few tunes in their set which follows mine at PlumFest. I am really looking forward to that, as they are a wonderful band, and a lot of fun to join in performance. We'll see...
8/3/23 Spent the past weekend enjoying Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. Lots of wonderful people, and great music.
We especially enjoyed the lemon-aid stand - it was so HOT on Saturday! The Saturday night concert was an experience we won't soon forget. In the middle of one performance, the rain came down harder than I've ever experienced. We were standing under a roof and thought we'd be mostly dry, but the wind picked up and started blowing the rain sideways. Then the floor started for flood. Oh, and the name of the band performing? Tempest. Still, as I've already said, great people and wonderful performances. Check out their website. They do live feeds during the event.
7/11/23 Just took a quick vacation to the Pemaquid Peninsula in Maine. Maine is one of those states that is so much bigger than it seems. You can drive a long way in Maine, and still be in Maine. The Pemaquid Peninsula is roughly 3 hours north of Boston. There are several interesting restaurants, many of which feature the local delicacy of oysters. We stopped at the Shuck Shack and tried a sampler of 3 different oysters, all harvested from the Damariscotta River. Since this is a tidal river, the flavor of the oysters varies quite a bit. depending on how far down or up the river you go. Those harvested further up the river are less briny, and sweeter, while those harvested further downriver and closer to the ocean are more briny and have a stronger flavor.
The Pemaquid Lighthouse at the end of the peninsula was also a great place to visit. We bare scratched the surface of this attraction as a couple of adirondack chairs and a chance to relax with an ocean view with ocean breezes just felt so good after a big breakfast next door at The Seagull Restaurant. All in all a pleasant, if brief, vacation.
7/3/23 My latest project has been to put some videos together on YouTube. So far, I have added several new videos of some of my live performances. Go to the "Extras" page for the YouTube link, or you can simply search YouTube for Mark D Hastings.
6/28/23 Well, I'm 3 for 3 with the rain. This past Saturday, I had the chance to perform at the Lavender Farm Fest held at the Farm at Summit Wynds in Holden. It was pouring buckets when I arrived. Given the choice between performing under the canopy or in the Barn Room, I chose the latter. Half way through my sets the sun came out and it got bright and sunny. What are you going to do? In any event it was a very nice venue with some kind staff member helping me get sorted out for my performance. I only wish I'd had the chance to try their Lavender Soft Serve ice cream, and take a stroll around their beautiful grounds...
6/16/23 Arrraugh! Rain! The Winchester Porchfest went well, but due to the heavy rain, the second half had to be cancelled. I did get my set in, but the rain had people staying away in droves.
The Arlington Porchfest has bee postponed until Sunday due to a forecast of more rain, possibly thunder. Unfortunately, I am already booked on Sunday, so Arlington is a complete scratch. Oh well. It goes with the territory when you play outdoors.
In any event, everything is looking beautiful and green outdoors. I've planted clover, which is doing nicely. At this time of year it is in full blossom, and the scent, is light but very sweet. Various species of birds seem to love it. I often seem them bobbing around in the clover catching bugs ans such. Forte, my cat, loves to watch them from the window and chatter away at them.
Looking forward to playing the North Andover Farmers Market on Sunday. Good people run that market. Lots of interesting vendors to shop.
5/17/23 It seems that Summer is coming early this year. We've had a few days in the 80's even though we're still in May. That said, my Summer schedule is shaping up nicely with bookings all the way through September. Maybe I'll see you at one of the events? BTW if you can think of a venue where you would like to hear me play, please let me know. I cover most of New England.
4/11/23 Today is unseasonably warm and sunny. Flowers are starting to bloom and the trees are starting to bud. I have the windows open to enjoy the fresh breezes. I hear the sounds of children playing, and the occasional dry leaf, left over from last Fall, rattles by my window as the wind drags it over the lawn. It has me looking forward to the gigs of Summer out in the fresh air.
This past Winter, I had just the one gig for the good people up in Milford NH. Such welcoming people and a wonderfully diverse market. I've started work on my next album. I have about 7 songs picked out so far. Hopefull it will be completed before the end of the year. (Fingers crossed!) More about that later...
12/23/22 I am remiss in posting my latest news. Let me fix that. On November 12th, I had a nice gig at the Whales Jaw Cafe in Rockport, Mass. What a delightful place. They really try to develop community spirit.
On this past December 9th, I had a wonderful gig called Songwriters in the Round at the One Broadway Collaborative in Lawrence. I shared the stage with Randall Krom, and Paul Rogoshewski, two songwriters that I greatly admire. We did a round robin of songs, and took turns challenging and inspiring each other. So much fun! Kudo's also to Aaron Tornberg who was a gracious host. I am amazed at what he is creating in that space at One Broadway. He is working hard to bring something wonderful to the Lawrence community. I wish him all the best in doing it.
As the year draws to a close, I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday and that you anticipate a successful new year ahead. This can be a stressful time of year for many people. Please try to be a little bit more patient and kind to others.
10/14/22 Taking a little time off from gigging to attend to other matters. The wife and I enjoyed a beautiful trip up to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. It is such an amazing place with about 36 different exhibits from paintings and sculptures, to quilts, to a steam ship, to a toy museum with amazing (and very creepy) automatons. Highly recommended. Also the trip up I89 was pretty spectacular with all the Fall colors.
10/1/22 Milford Farmers Market done for the Summer! (at least for me.) My next gig with them is at the indoor Farmers Market in January. The say was chilly with a few sprinkles, but the people there were as warm and friendly as always. I managed to stay warm enough with the help of a good fleece, and some hot tea. That was my last outdoor event for the year. I'm backing off in October to handle a number of personal events, but look forward to the Whale's Jaw in November. It's been a good Summer.
9/25/22 Well, Plumfest went really well. We were concerned about the close proximity of other performers, and some full bands with drummers, but it turned out that it didn't interfere all that much. The weather was great and people came out in droves to enjoy the festival. (Although the wife and I may have indulged in a little too much fried seafood during our stay. Thanks to our host and all of the Plumfest staff!
The West Concord Porchfest also went very well. I got to hear Kenny Selcer and Steve Gilliam perform in the time slot before mine. You sounded great guys! My host provided a very nice performance space on her porch, and lots of appreciative listeners stopped by throughout the afternoon.
9/11/22 Time flies doesn't it? The past several weeks have been busy with family, vacations, and friends so it's all good but I've hardly had a chance to catch my breath.
Coming up this weekend I am looking forward to the PlumFest out on Plum Island in Newbury, MA. This will be my 2nd year at PlumFest. This year I will be performing at 20 Plum Island Blvd from 1-2 PM. I will be followed by Currier Square from 2 - 3. This site is incredibly convenient as it is also the shuttle bus stop. So, you can come by to listen and there is no need to walk anywhere. ;-)
A few words about Plumfest - This is a fairly amazing event with some 50 host sites and many more bands and other performers. As you walk around the island your can enjoy everything from solo performers, to duos, trios, quartets, and full bands. There are lots of food trucks and restaurants to enjoy as well. It's a pretty big event.
Since parking is limited on the island proper, there is free parking at the airport up the road, with regular shuttle buses to the festivities. If last year is any indication, this year will be a memorable event. Here's hoping to see you there!
The following weekend I will be at the West Concord Porchfest. More on that later.
7/18/22 Well I'm back after a wonderful, terrible, amazing, exhausting, difficult, transformative week at WUMB's Summer Acoustic Music Week (SAMW). This was the first such event in 3 years due to the pandemic. It felt like coming home after a long absence. Wonderful supportive musicians all around, and it seemed like the music never stopped the whole week. I came to rue my decision to opt out of the usual cabins, for an RV site with my Prius. A less than full understanding of it's operation in standby mode led to a couple of nights of badly interrupted sleep. The weather made it's own contribution when a series of passing thunderstorms knocked out power for several hours. In the end, we all got through it relatively unscathed.
For my concert piece, I performed "First Snowfall" to a great reception. Someday I hope I'll be able to record that song, and my other "First of Season" compositions on a real grand piano.
7/3/22 The weather forecast looked atrocious this past Friday night. I was offered the chance to cancel my performance in Milford, but knowing New England weather, I decided to go for it the next day. When I checked the weather on Saturday morning, there was an improvement in the forecast. Still expecting rain, but at a lower probability. I arrived at 9AM to a light drizzle with very light winds. I set up under the canopy and began my gig. As the morning progressed, the rains got lighter then stopped alltogether. By the time the market was over, we had bright sunshine and some heat. I am so glad that I opted to go through with the gig. The people at the Milford NH Farmers Market are the best, from the market director, to each of the vendors. There were so many different vendors, no two alike. I gave them my best, including a few of my instrumentals, and my swing version of Here Comes The Sun. (Maybe that helped with the weather - who knows?)
Here's hoping that the good folks at the Milford Farmers market keep inviting me back.
6/27/22 Whew! It has been a busy week or so. Sunday a week ago I was warmly welcomed by the folks at the North Andover Farmers Market. This is one of the best run markets I have seen. There was a wonderful selection of vendors with no two of them selling the same thing. The volunteers running the market were friendly and very competent, and the customers were warm and welcoming to me on my first outing there. Many thanks to Rob for giving me the opportunity to play there.
This past Saturday I got to play at the Dedham Porchfest. Thank yous to Fred for organizing the music for the event, and to Austin for hosting a wonderful site complete with stage and decorative lighting! I got to play to a yard full of wonderful listeners for me entire two sets.
Next up, a return to the great folks at the Milford NH Farmers Market!
Had a great time performing at the Winchester Porchfest last Saturday. Had wonderful audience listening and dancing (even to tunes that didn't have a good beat that you could dance to ;-) ) We had beautiful weather with a chance to set aside worries, and just relax. Thank you to my hosts, and the Porchfest organizers. I hope to go back there next year!
Next gig: This Sunday at the North Andover Farmers Market from 10-1.
Got a bit of a surprise gig at the Salem NH Farmers Market. When one member of Currier Square took ill, I was asked to stand in for the day. It was a fun gig. Despite some very threatening clouds, we did not get even a drop of rain. The crowd was appreciative, of our covers as well as our originals. We even had a bit of "drama" when the power went out on the circuit we were using. Fortunately, the vendor next to us had a generator, and let us tap into it. Problem solved! Kudos to Mike and Vance for their wonderful performances - especially Vance's cover of "The One I Love".
It has been a long two years. So glad to be getting back out there to perform for people. Please check the Schedule Page for more information on upcoming performances.