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 is essentially an artist candy store, a quick résumé reference for club owners, concert halls, art galleries, filmmakers, theaters, cafés, bookstores, publishers and fans of the arts looking for – talent.  

GrabIt is by invitation only
Mark Kostrzewa
Fingerstyle guitarist, composer

Today’s date: July 2, 2009


Contact info:

Recent release (March 2009): “55 Miles”

Pick up a CD at: Café Lucca, 8455 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, CA; The Music Hut, 329 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA; or online at as well as the artist’s website.

CD Review: Kostrzewa’s “55 Miles” is an eloquent listen, full of all kinds of fluid chords, back porch blues, sun strings and heart beating sambas” – Pacifica Tribune, March 2009.

YouTube pick:

Recent television spot: Featured artist on “The Bruce Latimer Show,” Pacifica Community Television Channel 26.

Recent gig spots: Cameron’s Inn, Half Moon Bay; Chit Chat Café, Pacifica; Bazaar Café, San Francisco; 7th Street Montara Restaurant; Café Lucca, Montara; Half Moon Bay Yacht Club; San Benito House, Half Moon Bay; Mission City Coffee Roasters, Santa Clara; Alice’s Restaurant, Woodside; and upcoming – San Gregorio General Store; Crab Landing, Princeton-by-the-Sea; and Sam’s Chowder House, Half Moon Bay.

It should be noted: Daily updated gig calendar on website.

First record out, how was the experience?

“I took 6 months total to complete the CD, which was recorded at John Hall Studios in Pacifica, CA.  John was a great choice as he has excellent insight and intuition about music and he did not know my music or me that well.  He came into the process with a “clean” ear which I was really happy about.  Since it was recorded on an older style magnetic tape recorder, all takes on the CD were live.  Nothing is cut or pasted, so what you hear is what you get.  One surprise to me was which cuts ultimately made the CD.  Some of the ones that I was confident about when I went into the studio just didn’t add up.  A couple that I hadn’t even considered recording ended up being some of the better tracks.  Great learning experience which I’ll take into the next one!”

How would you describe the music you play?

“New-Agey, Mountainey, Slide, Latin and Brazilian and all on one CD! One stop shopping for the guitar aficionado.  I realize now clearly these are the results of the many different genres of music I love and the awesome musicians I respect.  It’s a celebration of the guitar in all those musical veins.  I was quite proud to write compositions in many different genres, which I consider one of the more unique facets of this CD.

Venues on your to do list?

“Off the top of my head? Freight and Salvage in Berkeley and The Fillmore in San Francisco.”

Favorite gig story to date?

“The first gig that my newly adopted son attended back in December of 09 at 7th Street Montara Restaurant. I thought to myself, ‘Well, here goes.  If he starts crying as soon as I hit my first note my music career is over!’  Fortunately, he loved it and totally digs guitar music and stays quite mesmerized at my gigs.  I remember the first song I played was a brand new composition I was working on called, ‘Victory’s Garden,’ and I was totally in the zone.  Maybe one of the best times I’ve ever played guitar as the fingers, brain and spirit were all working in unison!”

Who have you shared your stage with?

I play with acoustic guitarist Mike McCall in our duo band called “The 4th Street Experience.”  As a solo guitarist, I’ve also gigged or recorded with: Nomi Harper, singer/songwriter, Pacifica, CA; Lizannah, singer/songwriter, Moss Beach, CA; Tony Miranda; bassist, Montara, CA; Nancy Hall, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, Pacifica, CA; and Valerie Nuzum, flutist, Walnut Creek, CA.

Why these equipment picks? (Guild JF-30, Yamaha CGX171, Conn Classical Acoustic Guitar and Acoustasonic™ Junior DSP)

“The JF-30 is just a drop-dead gorgeous, maple body jumbo.  It’s quite large and heavy for an acoustic guitar.  It fits my body well as I am not a particularly petite person!  I did my own pick-up work on this guitar and it sounds awesome.  Oddly enough the Yamaha CGX nylon Flamenco is the complete opposite, small bodied, lightweight and very nimble.  The pickup on the Yamaha is probably the best pick-up system I have ever come across on any guitar.  The Fender Junior DSP has a surprising amount of volume for a smaller gigging amp.  I am just amazed how it can fill a room with sound without even going above volume 4.”

Musicians that inspired you to get your song on the stage?

“Pat Metheny, Jimmy Page, Alex de Grassi, Michael Hedges, Pierre Bensusan and last but certainly not least – Mr. Leo Kottke. Jobim and Guinga on the Latin front as well as Al Di Meola.  And let’s not forget great local guitarist Randy Clark.”

Bay Area musicians you recommend people get out and have a listen to?

“Mike McCall from Montara for great flamenco, classical compositions.  Nomi Harper from Pacifica for a voice of angel that will invariably make you cry when you hear her lyrics and Lizannah from Moss Beach for great heart-felt singing, songwriting that has a fun little edge to it.  Randy Clark and his band Crowsong are also awesome.”

What encouraged you to get going with your music?

“I had spent a significant portion of my career working graveyard shift and was unable to get out and about and exposed to all the great musicians around me until late 2007.  When I transitioned to a new position on day-shift, a new world quickly followed that had been in hiding for quite sometime.  Simple life fact: if you want to get better at something, just hang around people that are better than you, you will either quit or get better. I like to think I got better.  Also, I came to the firm conclusion I’m a late bloomer.  My wife and I had our first baby at 46-years-old and of course that is right when my first CD was finishing up.  My son is my ‘CD Baby’.”

How long from the first time you picked up a guitar till this CD?

I first picked up a guitar when I was 15 years old, so about 30 years!  I basically ‘’fiddled’ around with it (pun intended) for a long time and have only taken about 8 lessons in my life.  A lot of experimentation and watching and listening of other great guitar players.”

New music career, new son – how does it all feel?

“There were a couple of days when we first got him and I was busy with my airline career and the new CD had just come out and I simply did not know how we had gotten to the end of the day.  But somehow we did. It feels really good to have both things going on.  It was a long time coming, both my son and my CD, and it is amazing to me as to how close these two events materialized in my life.  This is truly a ‘shout-out’ to all you late bloomers out there.”

Advice to artists who need to get out there?

“Hah! You said the answer in your question!  An artist must simply get ‘out there’ in the scene and mingle, attend, listen, support and most importantly participate in the process in hand that moves you.  If you’re at least not a little nervous, you’re not doing it right.  Playing guitar to your armoire in your bedroom will only get you so far!

Why be on GrabIt?

I was definitely looking to expand the scene and looking to meet some new artists.  The marketing side of being an independent musician is probably the most difficult part and I believe this is a step in the right direction.

Mark Kostrzewa interviewed by Jean Bartlett for GrabIt