Mark Harrison or more commonly known as ‘BuddyRo’ (in which his drummer Chip ‘Memphis’ Click dubbed him) has been hanging around the Greensboro music scene since the early 80s. Born in Thomasville in ‘56 but now calls Greensboro his home Mark, is a well-known and respected guitarist and vocalist in the triad. Growing up in an environment that welcomed music with his dad being a manager of the radio station WTNC ever since he could remember, Mark was sure to do something involving music whether it be a radio broadcaster (which he tried his hand in at a young age and quickly deemed himself not radio broadcaster material for he didn’t think he had quite the voice for it) or a musician. The radio station is where he said helped formed most of his music taste. WTNC was not exactly a top 40s radio station Mark stated, they played hillbilly music before it was given the name ‘Country’ with a few hits of the day woven in there. Mark remembers bringing home demos of Van Morrison and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and listening to them.
Always having music present in his childhood he was not playing anything or singing until he was out of highschool. When he got into highschool he said he wasn’t hanging around with the best of crowds, being a musician was the last thing on his mind. It wasn’t until after he graduated he even considered being one. With all his party friends going off to college and getting a “higher education” as he put it he didn’t have much to do except get a job and even then he didn’t know what to do with his spare time. So he decided he was going to start messing around with the guitar given his history with music and it just being something he was interested in for years. So he went and bought himself a Yamaha F-G 125 that he still has years later now, with a hole in it, though it doesn’t sound quite as good as Willie’s “Trigger” it does have the same sentimental value. Playing along with records is where he honed his playing skills like many did back in the ‘70s. Some of the guys he delved into when learning how to play were musicians like Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, and Waylon Jennings. Focusing more on the country and outlaw side of music he didn’t start playing the more rocking stuff till a few years later when he got his first electric guitar. He named off a few of his favorite guitar slingers he looked up to when he was younger and they were the greats like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Duane Allman.
He eventually formed his first band which was called ‘South Road’ but it didn’t last too long, with them only playing 3 or 4 gigs. Mark then went on to a band out of Charlotte called ‘Magpie’ he described as a “folk-rock hippie bunch” but he didn’t stick with them for too long either. It wasn’t until after Mark moved to Greensboro in late ‘82 then in ‘85 he finally put together his own band and what is today known as ‘The Mighty Fairlanes’ but then was just ‘The Fairlanes’. Although the lineup has changed throughout their 30+ year span with a few female singers singing with them here and there the first solid lineup consisted of Mark on guitar, Chris Carroll on bass/vocals, Kevin Wilson on keys, and Gary Collins on drums along with a few others throughout the years. It wasn’t until about this time Mark started getting into the blues. Not that he was over the whole rock thing by any means, he just started discovering the music his favorite bands grew up on. He started listening to the famous bluesmen who inspired almost every band in the 60s/70s like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters and started getting into to Texas swing, like Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, which he said had a huge influence on him. Then started to realize that all his friends in bands were just doing covers of Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top, which he was doing the same thing but he didn’t get into music for this. He did it for himself, he didn’t want to do covers of other people’s songs, that is when he decided to start writing his own music though he didn’t get serious about until about 5 years ago. Then The Fairlanes eventually settled into a three-piece in ‘92 that was made up of Mark on guitar, Chip ‘Memphis’ Click on drums/vocals, and Ken Graham on bass. This was the lineup that lasted for 24 years until Ken had some health issues that prevented him to perform on a regular schedule. The Fairlanes eventually found Glenn Bickel a keyboard player and a Philadelphia native that moved to the triad, then along with Colby Jack on Bass and Mark Vernon who occasionally comes to play bass, that is what now forms the current lineup of The Mighty Fairlanes.
The current lineup of The Mighty fairlanes have been playing around the triad for the past year while working on their studio album over the summer set to release on October 7th. The album entitled ‘The Longer I Live’ will be the Mighty Fairlanes 2nd studio album among many other live recordings. All 12 songs on the record ‘The Longer I Live’ were written by Mark and when asked what to expect with the new album he said “Don’t expect a blues record from me man”. There’s a couple of swing tunes and rock songs tinged with some blues, Mark and the band were struggling to put it in a genre of any kind stating that “It might just be in a genre of its own”. They’re not too concerned with what genre to put this record in though, they’re just happy to be making a record with music and people that they love to play with. Mark is playing all guitar and singing on the record, Chip ‘Memphis’ Click is on drums/vocals, Glenn Bickel on keys, and Colby Jack along with Chris Carroll who was part of the original band played on 3 songs during the summer before his passing in August.
Mark ‘BuddyRo’ Harrison has been around the Greensboro music scene for years and over the course of 35 of them has developed a name for himself playing the music he loves. If you would like to catch him and The Mighty Faitalnes next show follow them on facebook here. If you would like to get a CD The Mighty Fairlanes CD release party will be on October 7th at the Sawmill 2 in Greensboro, NC from 8pm-12Am, The Mighty Fairlanes will be playing throughout the night original songs off the record and much more.