VAIL — For years, longtime guitarist and singer Mark Karan worked on hundreds of records for other people, always intending to “some day” make his own, but never making it the priority.
In the summer of 2007, Karan was diagnosed with throat cancer. After going through treatment, he decided the time had finally come.
“I realized time is not infinite and I took the cancer as yet another wake up call to make my record — ‘Walk Through the Fire,’ which I did and released in 2009,” he said.
Karan, who lives in Calif., will perform in Vail with Scott Rednor at Shakedown Bar on Friday and Saturday nights. On Friday night he plays with the Scott Rednor Band and on Saturday night, with Brother’s Keeper — a band that includes Rednor along with Michael Jude and John Michel of The John Oates Band.
Over the years, Karan has played with some of the best musicians in the industry, many of whom he considers his “musical heroes,” he said. He’s perhaps most well known for performing with the extended Grateful Dead family. He was tapped to fill Jerry Garcia’s slot in The Other Ones, a band featuring members of the Grateful Dead. He also played with Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum and Phil Less & Friends over the year. He played with Bob Weir & RatDog (from 1998 to 2010), and he’s also performed with Dickey Betts, Little Feat, Dave Mason and the list goes on.
“And Delaney Bramlett — If you’re unfamiliar and consider yourself a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, look him up,” Karan said. “I’ve been really blessed.”
A CHANCE TO RE-ENGAGE
Karan looked at his fight with cancer as a “wake up call.”
“It was a chance to re-engage with life and end some old patterns that weren’t serving me,” he said. “I basically saw the disease as an opportunity to take some life lessons very seriously.”
The first thing he learned?
That he had to love himself before he could love others well, and to accept life on life’s terms.
“And not insist on what I think it should be,” he said. “The only thing I have the power to truly change is myself and how I respond — preferably not react — to what is. It makes no sense to rail against God or life that things are unfair. They are what they are, period. And if I can accept that, I can live a far more joyful and empowered life.”
Most recently, Karan has been writing new songs for his next record, he said, along with playing with his band — called Mark Karan’s Buds — and a few other bands— Ghosts of Electricity, The Rock Collection, and Terrapin Flyer, which features Karan along with Melvin Seals.
“I’m also starting to teach a little bit and am looking to re-connect to my passion for recording,” he said.
The upcoming collaboration with Scott Rednor on Friday and Saturday marks the first time the men have been on stage together.
“We met when I came through Vail last summer with Emily Grace Clark to play the Shakedown Bar,” Karan said. “We had a great time together and Scott suggested we might try doing something together. I’m always game to try something new and see how it fits. So we’re giving it a go.
“I’m looking forward to seeing (Vail) in the winter. It sure is beautiful in the summertime,” Karan said.