Crossing Bridges, a memoir by Mark O'Connor out 2/10/23
Crossing Bridges, Mark O’Connor’s aching memoir, traces his journey from his childhood years, when at age 10 he was winning classical guitar competitions against University graduates, and at age 12 was thrust as a soloist onto the Grand Ole Opry stage introduced by the “King of Country Music,” Roy Acuff. The story covers O’Connor’s 1970s child prodigy years on the road as national fiddle and guitar champion. The acclaimed musician learned at the feet of American music legends while exploring his relationships with mother, dysfunctional family, a near career-ending accident and his involvement in some of the world's most iconic instrumental bands. O’Connor’s memoir details the personal triumphs, struggles and demons that informed the decisions he made about his music, career path and the risks he was willing to take for a shot at the brass ring.
Mark O’Connor - Early Childhood Recordings
Early Childhood Recordings is an archival CD of never-before-heard field recordings following Grammy award-winning Mark O’Connor’s remarkable musical childhood during the 1970s. The CD is a companion to O’Connor’s aching memoir Crossing Bridges: My Journey from Child Prodigy to Fiddler Who Dared the World. The musical selections follow the narrative of O’Connor’s memoir; from age 10 where Mark sings a Johnny Cash song and wins a Flamenco competition, to the first day he ever picked up a fiddle and how the young musical prodigy began to master five instruments within a couple of months of picking them up at age 11—all of it captured on tape. The program includes his Grand Ole Opry debut introduced by Roy Acuff by age 12 and the final rounds of O’Connor’s history-making national competition wins in both the fiddle and the acoustic guitar as a 13 and 14 year-old phenom (after playing the fiddle for just two-and-a-half years). At 13 he joined the iconic bluegrass band Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys for summer touring. Rousing performances of fiddle tunes with these legendary bluegrass musicians at age 14 can be heard here. The program includes an impromptu jam session at age 15 with the father of jazz violin Joe Venuti that was initially intended to be a prank for the audience but resulted into something entirely different, and excerpts from the top fiddle contestants in the 1970s—Benny Thomasson (O’Connor’s teacher) Dick Barrett and Terry Morris going head to head in a 1977 Louisiana State Fiddle Championship with O’Connor (age 16) playing on his loud and infamous white-painted fiddle. O’Connor’s musical evolution takes a surprising turn at age 17 in a jazz-rock fusion guitar performance with his high school band, a jazz violin duet with his final teacher Stephane Grappelli and as bandmember of the David Grisman Quintet at 18, and finally trading electric guitar and violin riffs at age 19 with Steve Morse and as a member of one of the great instrumental bands in the world at the time, The Dregs. O’Connor’s memoir details the personal triumphs, struggles and demons that informed the decisions he made about his music, career path and the risks he was willing to take for a shot at the brass ring.