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Thursday, June 16, 2011 04:51 am

Human harmony through music

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Marc Hennessey performs with To All My Dear Friends, Sunday, June 19, 7 p.m. at the Black Sheep Café along with The Transatlantic, Adult Books and Josh Kuhl.
In a world increasingly riddled with cacophony, rifled in over-stimulation and ruled by dissonance, our lives could use more peacefulness. Music, when presented in a healing form, has existed as a balm of sorts for time immemorial, soothing the savage beast created by self-imposed, human estrangement from serene activities.

Artist Marc Hennessey not only believes in this but also “strives to create a musical experience that rejuvenates, nourishes and soothes the listener, helping to return balance to heart and soul,” and has made that mission his life’s work. Armed with a violin, guitar, loop processor and a creative outlet, the traveling songster comes not to overwhelm and conquer but to nurture and inspire.

“I want to give people a chance to gain clarity and find a peaceful place when they listen to my music,” he says. “Doing that is what keeps me traveling to play.”

His act is called To All My Dear Friends and sometimes includes percussionist Greg Stull, but often is a solo operation, as it will be for his Springfield performance. After three years of playing live and nearly a year of national touring, Hennessey continues with a sense of purpose and drive, often invoking emotional results from listeners, including quotes like “nothing short of a religious experience” and reports of happy tearful responses. The artist seems somewhat powerless to explain the reactions, but nevertheless embraces the audience feedback with joy and aplomb.

“I think the violin gives a deep and strong connection that reaches listeners and has a universal appeal,” he says. “I often get people coming up after shows to just say ‘keep doing what you’re doing’ and that’s the most rewarding thing.”

Hennessey, a violinist since age 11, stressed his songs aren’t prerecorded bits, but begin with a set riff then move with the muse. He usually starts by making a recorded loop on guitar, then plays the violin over that, often adding several layers of sounds to achieve a symphonic piece of instant art. Some songs have lyrics, but most are instrumental, and they’re all made to order in a flow of creativity designed to mollify.

“I don’t want to be boring or monotonous. Every show is unique and created right in front of the audience,” he explains. “There is a basic structure, but each performance is it’s own work of art.”

Based in Gainesville, Fla., the highly-motivated, 20-something is a first-class DIY-er who books, records, promotes and performs, doing all the tasks necessary to be a full-time working musician and happy to do so in order to create art and deliver it to the public. He made and maintains his own website, makes all the contacts to book his tours and recently produced a recording, Transparent Voyages, released last March.

Along with the aural act, Hennessey now uses visual projection where a venue’s space and time requirements allow. He takes photos of star clusters, raindrops and other ambient images, projecting them behind him on stage during performances to create a mood to match the music, extending his vision of human harmony.

“I’ve always appreciated both the music and visual sides. Now I have the ability to combine them,” he explains. “People of all different ethnicities and languages can understand what I’m getting at when the music is instrumental and the images lack opinion.”

He readily admits being a full-time touring performer takes a lot of hard work and constant attention, but just as readily speaks of it all being absolutely worthwhile to take the time to do it.

“As I’ve been traveling I’m meeting lots of good and creative people who are helpful and into what I’m doing,” he says. “I love doing it while getting my point across more and more.”

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.
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