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Local singer making his country mark

Oshawa-based musician Mark Konarowski released his first country album, Easthaven, earlier this year. The third single I Still Got It was shipped to radio stations on Sept. 10. (Photo supplied)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

An Oshawa-based singer has begun to make his mark in the Canadian country music scene.

Mark Konarowski and his band EastHaven released their first country album Country Love earlier this year, and the latest single I Still Got It was shipped to radio stations on Sept. 10.

Previous singles, Easthaven and Country Girl, had success on radio, and Konarowski is hoping to top that with I Still Got It.

Although this is his first country album, Konarowski is far from a newcomer to the music industry.

His previous works were in the pop/rock genre, and he won an award from popular Toronto rock station Q107.

He was to also a top ten finalist to become the singer of former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash’ current band.

However, Konarowski says he sensed he needed a change in his musical direction.

“Rock had changed, rock was sort of dying as they say. I always had some country roots with some fellows here [in Oshawa],” he says. “I decided it was time to put out a country album, and I had some songs I wrote that were close to my heart.”

Konarowski says the sound of his album was influenced by Keith Urban, an Australian singer with a pop/rock background who crossed over onto the American country charts and become of the genre’s biggest performers. He also points to Dallas Smith, former singer of Default, and Darius Rucker of Hootie and The Blowfish as artist who have made the successful transition between genres.

However, he is also a fan of more traditional country, but points out popular country music currently has gravitated more towards a pop-sound.

“It used to have a lot of steel guitar and banjo [underlayings]. Fortunately or unfortunately, that has moved to more of a straight pop-rock sound,” he says.

He worked closely with Doug Deveaux of Sideman Studio in Oshawa, and a number of local musicians such as Paul “Chappy” Chapman, Gary Craig, John Dymond and Frank Woodcock.

Konarowski says he worked with his engineering/mastering team to ensure the album had the ‘bigger sound’ that many contemporary country albums have.

“The overall mix, when you get to hear the songs on the radio, it’s much louder. The guitars are a little more crunchier, and you can hear the drums clearer, and that’s a driving force in most music,” he says.

Konarowski says has found that live shows are no longer as strong of a tool for musicians to make a name for themselves.

“There are not many places to play live,” he notes.

For him, the focus is marking his mark on radio. He says he has a ‘radio tracker’ who serves as somewhat of a ‘mini-manger’ for his music.

He notes that how a musician get their songs to radio has changed a lot.

“In the past, you were bringing in records or cassettes or even in the late 80s, bringing CDS, but it’s all done by e-mail now,” he says.

“Your song can instantly be liked or maybe passed by for that day,” he says.

His music is also available on iTunes and Google Play. Konarowski admits he was initially unaware of how much influence streaming has on music these days.

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