Mark West was born and raised in Beaverton, Oregon. When he was a little boy his mother sent him outside to play and told him to never cross the street. That was more than 50 years ago and Mark still has not crossed the street. But he is still playing. He plays guitar, bass, keyboard, pedal steel, and numerous other instruments. Plus, he writes songs, sings, and accompanies fellow musicians. And finally his long-awaited debut CD is now available at CD Baby or wherever he happens to be appearing.

Mark started his musical journey at age nine after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Within two years he was playing bass in the band Silver Mist. A year later he joined another band, Odyssey, and played almost weekly at school dances.

As he entered high school his passion for music intensified. He was a first tenor in choir and could sing in a high register just like two of his heroes, Neil Young and Richie Furay. Most of his fellow students thought that was pretty cool, although some of the girls found it a little frightening. But Mark told them it was just a phase he was going through, that they shouldn’t worry, and to enjoy him while they could. In the early years, Mark was strongly influenced by The Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds, later by Poco and The Eagles, along with many other groups that had strong laid back singer/songwriter qualities. He learned that a native Oregonian could sound like a Californian and still remain fairly normal.

They married and settled down in the fall of ’77, Tammy continuing with her nursing career and Mark playing music, working in construction, and learning the carpentry trade. Finally, after a few years of domestic bliss Tammy asked Mark, “Hey, are you going to get a real job or what?”

To which Mark replied, “What?”

Ah, but soon the kids came along — Chris and Jon — by which time Mark was a full-fledged carpenter with dreams of still someday growing up to be a musician. As soon as his sons learned to walk he encouraged each to hurry up and get a job so Dad could go back to playing music, but they were more interested in messing their pants, drawing on the walls, and asking “Why? Why? Why?” So in 1989, in order to feed his family and get out of the house more often, Mark opened shop as an independent contractor. Yet somehow he managed to find time to continue mastering new musical instruments.

Once out of high school Mark and two previous bandmates, Jack Whitney and Clay Smith, formed the group Canyon. (Clay Smith would go on to open SoundSmith Studios in Bend, Oregon where Mark and his later group, CenterLine, would record.) Canyon was an acoustic trio that played local watering holes in the Portland area. It was at those clubs that Mark met several musicians who would become life-long friends and performing partners — Jan Stiver, Rick Grumbecker and Dick Lappé. To this day Mark still plays with Dick Lappé and Rick Grumbecker, as well as with Rick and Meridian Green when they appear together as The Fare-Thee-Wells.

By the end of 2010 Mark closed the doors on his remodeling business — actually, he slammed them shut — and got more into his music than ever before. He even built a small home studio where he could work undisturbed. These days, when he isn’t taking naps, watching re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show, wine tasting, or perfecting yet another recipe on the barbecue, Mark can be found writing, recording, or working on other musicians’ projects.

With Tammy’s blessing and encouragement Mark pursued and ultimately realized his dream of growing up and becoming a full-time musician and songwriter. Well, sort of. After all, Mark really is officially a full-time musician and songwriter — and Tammy is thrilled. Now she just wishes he would grow up.

Updated October 21, 2019

2011 - 2019  Mark West Music • All rights reserved

1958 - Mark West runs for sheriff of Beaverton, Oregon. Although he got the most votes he was not declared the winner due to a problem with something called a “hanging chad”. (Chad’s mother was not amused.)

Barely legal, in 1977 Mark appears with Canyon at the Salem, Oregon Hindquarter.

Still, the best thing that happened to Mark during those early years with Canyon was meeting the love of his life, Tammy. From the very beginning it seemed like the perfect union. Mark thought, “Oh, boy! A pretty nurse!”

And Tammy thought, “Oh, brother! A MUSICIAN?!!?”

1978 - Mark checks to see if Tammy’s heart is in the right place. It was. (And still is.)

2006 - By now, old and grizzled, Mark plays with CenterLine at the Oak Knoll Winery. Mark likes playing at wineries, noting, “This stuff tastes better than beer!”

2008 - Older and grizzleder, Mark plays at David Hill Winery. He discovers that wine improves with age. The older he gets, the more he likes it.

At the Crossroads Coffee Café in 2010 Mark backs up old friend and fellow musician, the late Jan Stiver, during Jan’s last public performance.

In 1995 Mark got back together with a couple old high school chums and they quickly found themselves most Sundays playing music and drinking a few beers. Eventually they became CenterLine and even though he kept his day job, Mark was back to playing clubs and writing music. Before going their separate ways CenterLine had a good run, playing lots of gigs and meeting a lot of good folks, and in 2005 they recorded a CD, Bend in the Road at Sound Smith Studios. (It’s available at CD Baby.)

In 2011 Tammy and Mark toast the completion of Mark’s new CD, A Long Road Home.