Mark McNeil is known as one of Hamilton’s most inventive singer-songwriters and his music has been featured on stage, recordings, multimedia productions, live theatre and television. He specializes in roots-based songs about local characters and history that are inspired from human interest stories he has written as an award-winning, staff journalist with The Hamilton Spectator.
Mark has five albums to his credit including his 2015 release Flashbacks that was nominated for three Hamilton Music Awards and listed as one of the ten best roots albums of the year by the Freewheelin’ Folk Show on CFMU. His album Shiny Things and Other Distractions was touted by critics as “amazing” and “one of my favourites of 2012. An A+…” One of the songs he co-wrote on the album, Sunny Days with You, was a semi-finalist in the Song of the Year Awards, a U.S.-based, international songwriting competition. His third album, Greetings from Hamilton, was a Hamilton Music Awards nominee in 2009 and more recently his song James Street was chosen as a semi-finalist in the 2015 JUNO Awards Turn it On Songwriting competition.
In recent years, Mark has written and produced music videos featured on The Spectator, The Toronto Star and City of Hamilton websites. One of those videos, Private Riley, received national attention through CBC Radio’s As it Happens and The Star. The video was the centrepiece of a Spectator online package about the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry that won Multimedia Project of the Year at the 2013 Ontario Newspaper Awards. His music video Ghosts of Stoney Creek, about the Battle of Stoney Creek, was a multimedia award nominee at the 2014 Ontario Newspaper Awards.
In 2012, Mark composed the music for Artword Theatre’s musical James Street that played to rave reviews in Hamilton at the Lyric Theatre in 2012 and at Artword Theatre in 2014 and 2015. The play, written by Ronald Weihs, was inspired by a newspaper section Mark wrote and edited in 2012 called The Story of James that won an Ontario Newspaper Award and City of Hamilton Tourism Award.
Mark has a long history as a performer going back to the early 1980s in Hamilton when he began playing his original songs at open stages. He went on to perform numerous major events including the Festival of Friends, where he has been featured more than a dozen times, and many other Ontario festivals. For the past several years, Mark has been regular performer at the Artword Artbar on Colbourne Street in Hamilton. In November 2015, he began co-hosting and producing a monthly cable television program called Flashbacks that builds each half-hour show around one of Mark’s local-history based songs. The program features interviews, in-studio discussion and on-site reports as well as a special song video for each episode.
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