The holidays have passed and Mark Huff is back home in Las Vegas for a few weeks, seeing old friends and playing a couple shows. The Nevada native has spent nearly two decades living in Nashville, when he’s not on the road that is. As an artist who plays 150 dates per year around the world, the road is as much Huff’s home as anywhere.
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Over a couple green teas in a Las Vegas coffee shop, Huff is doing something rare for most artists these days: a face-to-face interview. “I really prefer to do in-person interviews,” Huff says, as he buys a couple packages of chocolate chip cookies from a Girl Scout type, then gives her back the cookies with orders to share them with her friends. “I really don’t like phone interviews, though I do a lot of them from overseas. But I don’t like [writers] sending you questions. I don’t do that.”
Over a 30-year career, Huff has been perhaps one of the most underrated and under-noticed Americana artists on the planet. This is a guy who has opened for Dylan and Willie, and it’s pretty surprising that he never opened for Petty or Neil Young, who he is sometimes compared to. His albums feature players who have worked with Ryan Adams, Leonard Cohen, Jimmy Page and more, and he’s been fortunate to be the rare singer/songwriter who has made a living playing original music for decades.
Huff released a new single a few months ago – “Made by Hand” b/w “Breaking Through” – that will be included on his new, as-of-yet untitled album to be released in the spring. He said all the material is written, and several of the tracks have already been cut in Nashville.
Huff started out as a drummer, but after a while he gravitated to guitar and writing his own material. “I just wanted to be a musician, I wanted to be a songwriter. I didn’t necessarily want to be an acoustic musician; the acoustic guitar is just the instrument that’s easiest to use. I do a lot of solo acoustic tours, but when I do full band tours I play both acoustic and electric. The acoustic guitar is a writing tool, and it’s the easiest thing to just take out and play. But I didn’t set out to be strictly acoustic.”
When asked if he has any advice for new aspiring artists, there is no hesitation when he says, “No. You just have to keep going. If you like it, if you’re a baker or a carpenter or whatever, if you like it you have to keep doing it. I keep doing it because I like it. If I didn’t like it, I would’ve stopped doing it a long time ago. It’s the only thing I’ve ever been good at so I’ll just keep doing it.”
Some advice given to him by his father, however, might serve all of us in good stead. “When I left [Las Vegas] for Nashville, my dad gave me a piece of advice. He said, ‘I don’t know anything about what you do, about your business. So the only advice I can give you is to be a gentlemen and to be on time. If you do those two things you’ll go very far.’”
You can hear “Made by Hand” b/w “Breaking Through” from Huff’s upcoming album on SoundCloud.