Local musician keeping the beat for Mark Allan Atwood & Brimstone

By KATE LUDLOW

Rich Tulp and Mark Allan Atwood

Mark Allan Atwood has been making music for over 30 years, but feels his newest band, Mark Allan Atwood & Brimstone offers something different.

“Even on a bad night, it’s still pretty good,” he said. “This band feels more solid than anything I’ve ever done. We do this crazy thing called rehearse, and play together. I think our tightness comes along from playing a certain extended period of time together.”

Playing everywhere from the Saxon Pub in Austin to the Rolling Thunder in Fluvanna, Mark Allan Atwood & Brimstone offer an indefinable blend of good music.

“Everyone wants to know, what is this music. I don’t know what we play. A lot of people tell me, ‘hey, y’all are a good roots rock band.’ We aren’t,” he said. “There’s Texas country red dirt music. We’re certainly not normal country. We mix in elements of blues, jazz. We’re not raise the roof, light your guitar on fire stuff.  Matt (Nunn, bass and vocals) says we’re just good American music.”

Funny that a band that exemplifies Southern music features a drummer from north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but Rich Tulp of Liberty Hill keeps the band on perfect beat.

“I grew up in New Jersey. That’s how I learned to play the drums,” said Tulp, owner of DigiTex Printing in Liberty Hill. “My dad had a drum set, and I just started fiddling with it. When you’re a kid, if you have a drum set, you become a drummer.”

Tulp’s father had a big band in New Jersey.

Together Mark Allan Atwood, Matt Nunn and Tulp make up the band that rumbles around in a second-hand van they bought from a church group.

“It’s the big white beast,” says Atwood. “It’s a big 15-passenger, one-ton Dodge van. The passenger brake never works,” Atwood jokes. “It’s fun. Matt (Nunn) keeps us cracked up. We’ve got no radio, no A/C, no wipers. We drove home once in a terrible rainstorm with just lots of RainX to get us through. It was expensive, but it was a lot of fun.”

Their new album, Burned at the Crossroads, just debuted and it features some musical greats behind the scenes. Produced by Adam Odor, who has worked with The Dixie Chicks, Willie Nelson, Asleep at the Wheel, and Shawn Colvin, it’s a well-done 13-track album that kicks off with one of the band’s most popular songs, “Good Old Days.”

“It gets a lot of reaction. Basically, I was wishing today was like it was growing up. One thing about the good old days is that they might not have been good memories, but they tend to be better with time,” Atwood said.

The last line, “‘In this country/you know we’re free to vote for whoever we please/I just wish some would give us/some better choices than these…’ No matter where I am, people yell out for that line. It’s something everyone can relate to,” says Atwood. “It’s a common thread with a  lot of people.”

Atwood is sponsored by Kona Guitars and his endorsement leads to free guitars, which he plays exclusively.

“I’m the worst guitar player in Texas to have an endorsement,” Atwood jokes. “But they are great guitars. I have several instruments I play at every show. These guitars were on the album.”

Despite a full calendar, the band is most pleased about how well they fit.

“Rich, Matt and I talk about it,” says Atwood. “It’s personally satisfying. We’re locked in, directionally speaking. Any good night can be a great night.”

Visit www.markallanatwood.com for show dates, or “Like” the band on Facebook at Mark Allan Atwood & Brimstone.