Mark Dignam - Angels of Mercy (single)
Mark Dignam was born in Dublin, Ireland, and raised for the most part, in Finglas, a working class suburb known for its rough and tumble character, soccer players, and some fine singers and musicians. His mother, Maureen, sang around the house a lot, and the neighborhood itself, was soaked in music; Irish Traditional, Pop, Rock, Punk, Ska and Reggae tunes seemed to be everwhere. In the late 1980s Mark and his fellow northside friend Glen Hansard, began busking on Grafton Street in the city center, meeting up with Mic Christopher, Kila, Miriam Ingram, Leslie Keye, et al, to establish a street performing phenomenon. It was a racous mix of covers and originals which garnered a staunchly loyal, weekly following over three to four summers. The group became a storied part of Dublins’s music history, and from the vantage point of their pavement stage, they were not unused to seeing members of The Waterboys, Van Morrison, or Sinead O’Connor in the audience. The police were also frequent visitors (not the band!).
Meanwhile, through the early to mid 90s Mark became a popular member of Dublin’s influential songwriter scene, most notably at Dave Murphy’s legendary sessions in historic venues around Grafton Street: The Bailey, McDaid’s and the International Bar. After Mark’s first trip to the U.S in 1991, he began to hone his highly lyrical Folk-Rock sound, releasing Poetry and Songs from the Wheel in 1995. Ireland’s Hotpresss Magazine voted the record one of it’s top ten debut albums of that year, and hailed Mark as a powerful voice on the singer/songwriter scene. He toured extensively in western Europe and the U.S, along with opening for Glen Hansard, The Swell Season, David Gray, Billy Bragg, Joan Armatrading, Richard Thompson and Richie Havens, to name-drop but a few. The debut was followed by 1997s In a Time of Overstatement, And One for All in 2004, Box Heart Man, recorded with Detroit label Timesbeach Records in 2005 and “Rebuild” recorded with a live studio audience at Pittsuburgh’s Treelady studios in 2014.
Mark currently lives around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States with his two, much adored teenage children, and is working with producer/engineer Steve Seel, on a new album, titled An American Tune. The album will reflect on his experiences as an immigrant (and now naturalized U.S citizen) and mix elements of both Irish and U.S musical cultures. A highly poetic writer leaning into the folk-rock tradition in the past, Mark has intimated that An American Tune will also investigate the ideas of “historic” and “modern,” bringing together acoustic and electronic instrumention. “What I picture, is a record made by Leonard Cohen, The Waterboys, Peter Gabriel and if I can stretch myself, maybe a little of St. Vincent (Annie Clark).”
The act of genuine care shown by a male nurse towards his late mother while he himself was stuck in US unable to come over and spend her last moments with her inspired Dignam to write a very raw and poignant song "Angels of Mercy." Born from the heartache, it pays an homage to the frontline workers who fought the tiredness, the fear on daily basis in the ER and ICU rooms around the world. The song isn't as dark and sad as it may seem. It leaves a message of hope, gratitude. Dignam wears the heart on his sleeve, his evocative vocal puts you right in the centre of the story, makes you feel everything you hear. Chilling, haunting. True craft.
"Tide starts to rise - There’s sirens in the street
They’re clapping from the balconies - You’re aching on your feet
Joe died on Sat - Henrietta went last week"