Vandaveer shows pride in its Lexington roots, releases new album

By Matt Wickstrom

The musical escapades of Mark Charles Heidinger have seen the Lexingtonian traverse the country, but his strong Kentucky ties always seem to find their way into the folk-pop stylings of his near decade old project, Vandaveer, which released its fifth full length album, “The Wild Mercury,” Feb. 19.

According to Heidinger, the project grew from humble beginnings into a collective project involving several members, many of whom also have Lexington ties.

All five of Vandaveer’s records have been produced in Lexington in partnership with Duane Lundy, who Heidinger said he has worked with since his teenage years. Robby Cosenza, J. Tom Hnatow, and Justin Craig are all musicians with roots in Central Kentucky, and who have been mainstays with the group in the studio, along with the irreplaceable Rosie Guerin.

“It started out as just a solo singer-songwriter project,” Heidinger said. “The first record, out in 2007, was primarily just me and my guitar. It grew into a duet with Rosie singing with me, and she’s been a mainstay ever since.”

The band has been a “revolving door” of members. For its next album, Heidinger said they may bring in another member.

Moonshiner's Ball 2015 Saturday 05_16_2015-390
Photo provided by Kim Blackburn at The Starving Artist Kentucky.

Due to the band’s busy tour schedule promoting their fourth album, 2013’s “Oh, Willie, Please…” recording sessions for “The Wild Mercury” were often few and far between. Heidinger said the group spent about two months cumulatively in the studio, but that time was spread out over nearly two years.

“The process was more false start this time around; you get halfway down the road before realizing you missed a turn, leading you to back up and try again,” Heidinger said. “Those mistakes make you revisit ideas and ultimately come up with something better. You have to take things apart and reconstruct them sometimes to find out what they should be made of.”

Vandaveer is part of a slew of Kentucky artists joining The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Moon Hooch, Darlingside, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, and others this May in Berea for the third annual Moonshiner’s Ball.

Other artists from the Bluegrass sharing the stage with Vandaveer will be the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers, DeBraun Thomas Trio, Driftwood Gypsy, Johnny Conqueroo, and Restless Leg String Band, among others.

The Moonshiner’s Ball is full of collegues and friends, Heidinger said.

“I’m happy to see the resurgent pride in calling Kentucky home,” Heidinger said. “I think it’s important for our state and artists to make their home here, and to participate in a festival … that is extremely heartwarming.”

You can catch Vandaveer live in Lexington on Sunday at the Black Box Theatre in the Downtown Arts Center. Tickets are $10, with doors opening at 6:30 pm for a show at 7. The event is presented by Whitespace Records, and will feature an art exhibit by Mark Cornelison along with complimentary food and drinks catered by local favorite Alfalfa prior to the show.

Check out ‘The Wild Mercury’ in its entirety below. Check out this article in the Kentucky Kernel, and view a full transcript of my conversation with Mark Charles Heidinger here.

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