Joni Deutsch Published

John Mark Nelson Is Going Places


Heed Larry Groce’s words, folks: John Mark Nelson is going places.

I had a hunch when I picked up Nelson’s new full-length I’m Not Afraid, and I had stronger feelings when I realized I’d unconsciously mapped out dance chore to his single “Dream Last Night,” but I had final confirmation of his inevitable fame when I saw him bring a tent of people to their feet on the shores of Lake Superior.

So when the opportunity came to talk new music with NPR’s Heavy Rotation and Morning Edition, I knew exactly what to do.

Check out my recap of John Mark Nelson’s infectious “Dream Last Night” below, and make sure to tune in to West Virginia Public Broadcasting (this Saturday at 8pm EST and next Friday at 8pm EST) to hear the Minnesota singer-songwriter’s live performance on Mountain Stage, recorded this September at the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. 

When a bearded folk crooner kicks off a song with a riff that calls to mind both the bounciness of Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" and the seasoned Memphis licks of Steve Cropper, you know you're in for a treat. Such is the case with "Dream Last Night," a new song by Minneapolis singer-songwriter John Mark Nelson. After cranking out two down-to-earth folk records in his bedroom and taking to Kickstarter to fund a third (all before turning 21), Nelson booked five days of studio time and emerged with I'm Not Afraid, the mesmerizing flagship release for Trampled By Turtles frontman Dave Simonett's GNDWIRE Records. It's a testament to Nelson's craftsmanship as a songwriter and skills as a performer that "Dream Last Night" works so well live, too, with his able road band bringing the tune's ethereal guitar grooves and spooky harmony vocals into sharp focus.