We had the good fortune of connecting with John Mark Piper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John Mark, can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
While at the South Pole I read the biography of Jack London by Earl Labor. GREAT book about a great life. I think it made me feel that I have a few of the traits that Jack did and by seeing them in such a great man like Jack London, made me feel a bit special too.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I play a lot of solo vibraphone and that is very unusual. I first learned from the legendary Gary Burton and then took to the streets of L.A., Hollywood and Pasadena to refine the solo skill. Like many people in my position, teaching music was my “day gig” but about 13 years ago, I decided to do something a bit different. I took up firefighting/paramedic. About 5 years ago, I decided to hone in on something a bit more exotic in the fire/rescue field so I deployed to Antarctica. My home is still in the metroplex but I’ve been deploying to the South Pole and McMurdo Station, Antarctica for the past five years as Lieutenant Firefighter/paramedic. I’ve spent over 40 of the past 48 months “on ice” (literally). This gives me a very different perspective and I have plenty of time to practice my art. I built a vibraphone specifically for Antarctica and I’ve performed many concerts for the scientists and support staff at the South Pole and McMurdo Station while deployed. I’m planning on this to be my final deployment and will return to full-time musician performer in August/Sept 2020.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
The Kitchen Cafe, The Balcony Club, any place offering live, artful music.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I think all the musicians in the DFW area is a great place to start. It’s very difficult to forge ahead and make music an artform so I’d have to mention all of them if I mention one so I’ll just leave it at that. I love real music created by real people and not computers. Less is better and if you can make music without all the sugar and spice of studio magic, you’re an artist. So for those who are playing the clubs, providing raw, live music and to those venues supporting live, local musical.
South Pole photo by Christian Rahl All other photos by Kira Morris