Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Two artists with different stories chase similar dreams

What is the goal of a musician? Is it fame and fortune? Gold records and No. 1 hits? Getting noticed by girls or guys?

Those are some of the typical reasons people get into the music business. But not the only ones. I talked to two artists recently with different stories, but similar goals.

Mark Bryan has been to the top of the music world as the guitarist with Hootie and the Blowfish, the South Carolina quartet.

Kerry Patric Clark is one of Toledo's favorite sons who went to New York to chase his dreams but settled back down in his hometown with a different measuring stick for success.

"My first and only goal, which I had when I was starting out at 14," Clark said, "was to play music and make a living at it. And I've been doing that for more than 20 years."

Bryan always said that Hootie's goal was to be able to stay together as a group and to continue to make music.

But once that base has been established, artists start looking ahead to the next set of goals.

With the luxury of having sold 16 million copies of Hootie's 1994 CD, "Cracked Rear View," it's unlikely that Bryan and his level-headed college pals Dean Felber, Jim "Soni" Soneberg, and Darius Rucker, will ever feel any financial pressures again.

"Thank God!" Bryan said of "Cracked." "Because of that I can do whatever I want musically. It still has to be good music, of course, but I'm in a position where I can get my friends together who are really talented musicians and make a record of my songs, and release it on Atlantic."

After Hootie's 1996 CD, "Fairweather Johnson," and a world tour, Hootie and the Blowfish decided to take its first lengthy break since it was formed at the University of South Carolina in 1986.

"I had a lot of songs stacked up at that point, a lot of new stuff," Bryan said. "I didn't feel like sitting around on my butt, so I said, 'If we're going to take a year off then I'm going to do a record,' and they said, 'That's absolutely cool.' "

He rounded up some musical buddies, and headed into the studio to record the 13 tracks on "30 on the Rail."

The jangly, guitar-driven rockers soar with lush vocal harmonies and breezy beats, similar in style to Hootie's bouncy hit tunes but with Bryan doing all the songwriting, lead vocals, and guitar work.

"I don't think the industry will react to this," he said. "Rootsy rock is not what's selling. But I feel it's a really strong album."

Bryan is not swayed by numbers. He just wants to create good music from the heart.

Sharing the same goal, although coming from a different angle, is Toledo's Kerry Patric Clark.

Born with a terrific tenor voice and a knack for writing tunes and playing guitar, he moved to New York City in 1989 and signed with a management company to pursue his dream of topping the charts. After three frustrating years of trying to fit the mold of what his agents told him a star should be, he realized that he just wanted to be himself.

Clark moved back to Toledo in 1992 and has released three CD's, "A Simple Man," "Build a Bridge," and his new project "Choose Love."

"I used to write songs for other people," he said. "They'd say, 'You need to write a song about this, or a song about that.' There was no personal fulfillment to it. I was just accomplishing a task I was assigned.

"Since I moved back to Toledo, it's been a new start, a new beginning."

He now writes songs that well up from within, and his dream has gone from selling millions of discs to having a positive impact in his community.

"Choose Love," with its warm and polished studio mix, is as sweet and pure as dipping into Winnie the Pooh's hunny jar.

"I Am a Quilt" is a musical metaphor about how people and events shape our lives just like the fabric and stitches form a quilt, and Clark has a hard time singing it without getting choked up. "Tuesdays Are for You" was inspired by Mitch Albom's heartwrenching bestseller, Tuesdays with Morrie.

Clark and his wife, Amy, are rearing two boys, 12 and 14, plus running a household and a business. They are selling his CDs through his Web site,, and, when they have time, will try to shop the disc to some smaller record companies.

David Yonke is The Blade's pop music writer. He can be reached by e-mail at

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