Mountain Holler left Tampa Bay two years ago, and is now firmly established in the Pacific Northwest.
The name on his birth certificate is Mark Etherington, but the 10 years he spent in the bay area, performing as Mountain Holler, left an indelible imprint. Etherington creates ethereal soundscapes with his voice, an acoustic guitar and electronic effects like heavy reverb, rhythm boxes and looping. Once you heard Mountain Holler, at a live show or through one of his recordings, it was a sound never forgotten.
He’s back in St. Pete, for a Saturday concert at the Floridian Social Club with his band of brothers, known collectively as the New Dawn. It’ll be, Etherington likes to say, “one hell of a musical bomb of an evening.”
When Etherington and his partner Chelsea Gallo left Florida in the fall of 2020, the goal was to travel extensively before settling down in Portland, Oregon, where he knew there to be a thriving music scene.
They arrived in Portland, all right, and in fact lived there for a while – but fell in love with Seattle, farther north in Washington State, and moved to that city in March 2021.
“We moved out here and everything was shut down, of course,” Etherington said in a recent phone conversation. “I found an open mic; it was one of just two happening in the city. I went there once or twice a month, starting in March, and then in June the guy who was booking it asked if I’d be down to play a show July 10. He asked me how long I could play, and I said ‘Dude, I can play for three hours. However long you need me to play.’ I was, like, dying to play a show.”
And so time passed. As the veil of Covid-caused closures was getting tentatively pulled back, Etherington explained, “it worked out in my favor, because a lot of the bands were being super-cautious. I was too, of course, but I was really hungry to play. So any opportunity to play, I just took it.
“Because of that, now I’m in this really good flow. I had six shows in September, seven shows in October/November, two or three more in December and I’m already booking out through next year.”
He’s writing and recording an album’s worth of new songs, some of which will get played at the Floridian gig. “At this show,” he said, “we’ll be performing a song I wrote like two weeks ago.”
Seattle’s been berry, berry good to Mountain Holler. “Being in a new city and being around this much incredible music all the time has been super-inspiring,” he added.
This’ll be, by Etherington’s estimate, his fourth time back in the bosom of St. Pete/Tampa. The New Dawn consists of some of his oldest Florida friends, longtime bandmates and erstwhile running buddies: Matt Walker on harmony vocals; Rob Osenton on guitar, mellotron, pedal steel and vocals; Nick Ewing on violin and vocals; J.T. Brown on guitar and vocals; Roger Lanfranchi on drums and Rob Kelley on bass.
“We were supposed to play together only for a farewell show,” Etherington said. “But we all loved it, so now we’re holding it together.”
Mountain Holler and the New Dawn: At 7 p.m. Saturday, Floridian Social Club, St. Petersburg. Tickets and additional info here.
St. Petersburg Opera Company is in the middle of its 17th season, going great guns…
St. Petersburg residents are not the only ones dealing with inflation and struggling to afford…