Nicholas Marks – International Artist of the Gypsy Guitar
By Matt Bretz // August 26, 2012
Nicholas Marks grew up in a family steeped in the rich tradition of Roma music. He became a third generation guitarist at the age of 10 and dedicated his life to it.
Since that time Marks has strummed his way across the globe, performed with monsters in the musical world, serenaded royalty in Monte Carlo, picked his axe at the Luxorin Vegas and competed on America’s Got Talent for three seasons. Nowadays you can find Marks performing almost nightly in Downtown Disney…that’s where I found him.
Grabbing a couple of drinks at one of the walk-up bars in Downtown Disney, I noticed a single guitarist sitting on a lonely stool in the middle of a medium-sized, outdoor stage. He was good, but off the bat nothing was really catching my attention.
People were interested, but not enough to really commit to stopping and watching for very long. I felt the same way, but it was date night so we decided to hang for a couple of minutes while we downed our drinks.
And it’s a good thing we did, because a couple of minutes is exactly how long it took for Marks to shift into gear. All of the sudden this unassuming man on a stool was flying over his fret board with abandon.
Next he was up on his feet, twirling his strapless guitar rhythmically through the air, slinging it behind his head and tossing it for a perfectly timed catch…all without hitting a single sour note. But these theatrics are no gimmick to hide a weak technique.
Like a musical sponge- Marks soaks from all styles to enhance his unique take on Flamenco beats and rhythms, infusing American pop in no way you’ve ever heard before.
I sat mesmerized and before long his first set was over and I realized I had been watching for nearly 45 minutes. I turned to my date and we both agreed…two more drinks and another set. Over the course of the night the plaza Marks was playing in became clogged with audience members as nearly everyone passing by was drawn in by the music.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to one of the finest guitar players I have ever witnessed- Nichols Marks.
BL: What was it like growing up with so much music around?
NM: It was amazing. Both my father and my grandfather played Flamenco guitar, so it was kind of a family tradition.
BL: How early did you pick up the guitar?
NM: I started messing around with it at maybe like 6 or 7, but I didn’t really get into it seriously until around 10. Once I really got serious about it though I couldn’t put it down…I was hooked.
BL: What was it like playing Monte Carlofor the ATP tennis match?
NM: I’ll never forget that week…it was unreal. That place doesn’t seem like the real world. Everyone is incredibly wealthy and everywhere you go just looks like a palace. It’s very impressive.
NM: I did. I was fortunate enough to play two 20-minute sets during a show with Tony Bennett and Alejandro Sanz. If you haven’t heard of Alejandro, he’s about as famous as Elvis in Spain. I will never ever forget that night. People that were at Tony’s table said he stopped everything he was doing and just watched me play. He said he fell in love with my playing. Afterwards he came up and told me “congratulations” and that I was the best guitarist he had ever seen.
(That’s right, Tony Bennett and I have great taste)
BL: Tell us about competing on America’s Got Talent.
NM: It was great. I’ve been on three seasons now, and every time I make it into the top 70 out of about 150,000 applicants.
BL: There are some Youtube clips out there of you on the show. In one in particular video Piers buzzes you early but then takes it back after your audition.
BL: So now you are doing a regular thing with Disney. How’s that going for you? NM: Yes, I’m signed with Disney now and it’s wonderful. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Every night there is a new audience for me to play to, and they are there to have fun so the mood is always great. Disney has been very good to me.
NM: That’s right, he Xed me, then retracted it later and said some nice things about me.
BL: How were the judges overall?
NM: They were all very nice. Sharon Osborne was extremely nice to me actually. She made a point of telling me how much she liked my performance.
BL: So now you are doing a regular thing with Disney. How’s that going for you?
NM: Yes, I’m signed with Disney now and it’s wonderful. I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Every night there is a new audience for me to play to, and they are there to have fun so the mood is always great. Disney has been very good to me.
BL: So what’s next for the Gypsy Guitarist?
NM: So many things are happening right now, I can barely keep up. But mostly I just want to keep playing and creating great music. I want to make people move and feel what I’m playing. I feel very lucky to have this talent and even luckier to get to share it with others.
If you want to hear Nicholas Marks you can check him out at NicholsMarks.com
You can also find a myriad of Youtube videos starring the man himself. And if you really want to see him, catch him live Tuesdays through Saturdays inside Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney.