ProvidedPasadena singer and guitarist Mark Desrochers has been a fixture in the Anne Arundel County music scene over the last 35 years.
Talented Pasadena Guitarist Enjoys Long Career, Growing Fan Base
When Mark Desrochers picked up a guitar during his high school years in Glen Burnie and began dating his high school sweetheart Mary Ellen, it would have been incredible to think more than 35 years later, he would enjoy such success on guitar with Mary Ellen still by his side. But this is the life of Pasadena singer and guitarist Mark Desrochers, a fixture in the Anne Arundel County music scene.
Desrochers can trace his musical career to the moment he began guitar lessons given by his sister’s piano teacher in 1976. He laughs at the cheap guitar he had at the time, which, when he strung it with steel strings rather than nylon, fell apart. With practice, he excelled and by 1980, he was performing onstage at the Oxbow Inn (now Mother’s Grille) in Arnold.
An enterprising musician, Desrochers discovered where other local musicians played, and he acquired gigs there, too. Early in his career, Desrochers played at the Annapolis Hilton (now Pussers) and bars throughout Annapolis, Baltimore and the Eastern Shore, and various private parties and festivals. One career highlight was playing during halftime of a raucous Baltimore Blast game, the loud indoor arena hosting the largest crowd for whom he has ever played. An extra bonus for Desrochers was watching news coverage of the Blast’s game and hearing his performance on TV.
Desrochers has been influenced by great singer-songwriters like John Denver. While he appreciates the guitar riffs of Deep Purple and the high, impassioned wails of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Desrochers gravitates toward the music that best fits his voice and vocal range, such as Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Mostly, Desrochers plays popular, crowd-pleasing cover songs, but he does dabble in original material and has received positive feedback for his efforts. Fifteen years ago, Desrochers released a recording project on cassette, and he is leisurely working to put out more recordings of original material. He has a collection of unfinished songs waiting for more attention and said his lyrics have become more mature, often influenced by his life and by love.
“It’s slow, but I’m more particular,” Desrochers admitted. “I’m my own worst critic, but hopefully I’m working toward that. It’s easy with the Internet, and recording technology has changed.”
For now, Desrochers continues to play throughout the area, regularly appearing at O’Loughlin’s in Arnold and Coconut Joe’s in Edgewater; he also recently performed at The Office Bar and Grill in Pasadena. The feedback he receives has been excellent, and his following has been growing. Desrochers plays what he likes, but he has developed the skills to read the crowd, so they’re hearing a great show as they enjoy dinner and drinks. He also thinks it’s important to play at a volume that is not too loud, something his audiences appreciate.
When he’s not making music, Desrochers designs websites, often for the bars and restaurants where he plays guitar. Desrocher’s website, www.singerguitarist.com, includes a handful of songs fans can listen to, as well as his entire song catalog and a schedule of performances.
“After playing thousands of shows over the years, including before the smoking ban when most bars offered only smoking or chain smoking sections, I am grateful that I am still able to entertain a wide age group of people and make a living at what I love to do!” Desrochers exclaimed.