Mark Schatz - A Brief History

Mark Schatz was born April 23, 1955 into a musical family. He began his formal musical training with cello at age ten and later switched over to string bass. His first performance was in 1971 on electric bass in a high school rock band. Inspired by a love for folk and traditional music, he started to play the guitar and mandolin.

From 1973 to 1978 Mark got his Degree in Music Theory and Composition from Haverford College, studied for a year at Berklee College of Music in Boston, picked up the old-time banjo, and went to his first old-time fiddle festival in Fiddler's Grove, North Carolina. He also started to learn to clog, inspired by his work with Mandala, a Boston based folk dance group. In 1977 he met Bela Fleck which led to a fruitful association including working together in Tasty Licks, Spectrum, and many recording projects including Drive and Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Volume II, The Bluegrass Sessions".

From 1998 through 2002 Mark involved himself in a variety of activities. He expanded his role with Footworks which included becoming their Musical Director and Road Manager and producing two CD's and two videos for the group. He freelanced which included work with Bela Fleck, Laurie Lewis, John Hartford, and Linda Ronstadt. He started touring in earnest with his own band called Mark Schatz and Friends and cut a new solo CD called Steppin' in the Boiler House.

Mark played bass with Nickel Creek from 2003 through 2007 and played on their CD Why Should The Fire Die. From 2008 to present he has been a member of The Claire Lynch Band, where he adds color and variety to shows with hambone, clawhammer banjo, and clogging. Mark rejoined Nickel Creek in 2014 to record A Dotted Line, and was part of their accompanying spring and summer reunion tour. He is often called to record with other artists including Sarah Jarosz, Noam Pikelny, and Della Mae, and his work with Footworks as dancer, musician, Musical Director and Road Manager is ongoing.

As Claire cuts back on full-time touring in 2017 Mark will be available for touring, recording sessions, instructional camps, and private lessons. He has an overdub studio where he can add bass or banjo tracks to recordings that are sent to him.  

In 1983 Mark changed direction and relocated to Nashville where he played country music on electric bass. He re-entered the acoustic world in 1985 when he joined the Tony Rice Unit. From 1990 to 1998 Schatz played with Tim O'Brien as one the O'Boys. It was during this time that he began his association with The Fiddle Puppet Dancers (who later changed their name to Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble). Performing with Tim (who always included some old-time music in his shows with Mark on banjo) and the dance group encouraged him to pursue his own solo recording in 1995, "Brand New Old Tyme Way" on Rounder Records. This was produced by Bela and featured Mark's clawhammer banjo playing and original compositions.


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Discography - Mark Schatz

Tasty Licks: Anchored to the Shore

Spectrum: Opening Roll, It’s Too Hot For Words, Live in Japan


Bela Fleck: Crossing The Tracks, Natural Bridge, Double Time, Drive, The Bluegrass Sessions


Blaine Sprouse: Brilliancy


Tony Rice: Me And My Guitar, Native American, Tony Rice Plays and Sings Bluegrass,

   The Bluegrass Album Band – Volume V


Maura O’Connell: Just in Time


Mark O’Connor: The New Nashville Cats, Liberty


Jerry Douglas: Fluxedo, Slide Rule, The Great Dobro Sessions


Tim O’Brien: Oh Boy, O’Boy, Odd Man In, Rock in My Shoe, Red On Blond


Tim and Mollie O’Brien: Away Out On The Mountain


Mollie O’Brien: Tell It True


Mark Schatz: Brand New Old Tyme Way, Steppin’ in the Boiler House


John Hartford: Good Old Boys


Nickel Creek: Why Should The Fire Die, Dotted Line


Sara Watkins: Sara Watkins


Sarah Jarosz: Follow Me Down, Song Up in Her Head, Undercurrent

Della Mae: Della Mae


Claire Lynch: Whatcha Gonna Do, Dear Sister, Holiday, North By South


The Patuxent Banjo Project

"He sews the whole mess together." -Rooster Ruley

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