Scene and Heard

Artists fuse dark poetry, music

Mark Malefyt performs at the Brewstation on Saturday, Jan. 8. RON HARTMAN/CHRONICLE PHOTO

COTTAGE GROVE – Life experiences. Mark Malefyt has enjoyed – and endured – his fair share of them. As a singer-songwriter, he loves being able to share many of those stories and the songs they inspired. 

“I was playing a pub in a little village in Ireland and there was a family there and they even knew a lot of the cover songs I was playing,” Malefyt recalled. “I went to take a break and the father asked if he could play my guitar and said the boy who was sitting next to me was only 14 and when he came back from the bathroom he sang this song and the whole place you could hear a pin drop. It was an amazing, amazing performance.” 

Malefyt then did his own stirring rendition of that song – “Lakes of Pontchartrain” – for the Brewstation crowd Saturday night. 

“It was written in the 1800s, it’s an old traditional song,” Malefyt said. “I don’t think they know who wrote the song.”

Catchy phrases and funny song titles are some of Malefyt’s specialties. Among the Roseburg resident’s gems: “Whitecaps on the Water, White Knuckles on the Wheel” … “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be” … and, “I Really Should Have Stayed Away From Whiskey.”

The 59-year-old Michigan native played in a five-piece hard rock and blues band for several years. When Covid hit, he started sharing gigs with other solo artists but said he prefers to perform alone. Which is understandable, because he’s comfortable connecting with fans. 

Malefyt, who plays frequently at the Brewstation, says he got the songwriting “bug” about 10 years ago. He eventually met Richard Wells, a poet and short story writer in Seattle. Together, they tried to merge their talents – dark poetry and music.

It worked.

“He was shocked; I did a full six-track recording and I sent it to him in Mexico City with six members of his family,” Malefyt said, “and they were like, ‘Wow!’ And I’m like, ‘Perfect!’”

“He sent me like six, and four I said no, but two I looked at and said I can do something with these. 

“One I changed two or three words and another I scrapped a couple of verses and wrote my own, and rearranged stuff, and he said go for it, this is collaboration. He’s gonna be there in Mexico when I’m there, so hopefully we can write some more. 

“But now we both have a piece of art that’s ours. It’s different. It’s not his song and it’s not my song.” 

Just more interesting life experiences for an interesting singer-songwriter.



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