April 20, 2008 — By day, Mark Wallace helps build houses for Innovative Builders. But when the sun sets you'll find this St. John guitarist and singer in front of the microphone at a number of St. John bistros.
"I'm completely fascinated with the guitar," he said.
Wallace just came out with his first CD, "Cornerstone." It features a wide array of music, including jazz, swing, Irish jigs and Scottish lullabies.
Wallace, 54, loves to sing James Taylor songs and loves Frank Sinatra as well, "anything," he said, "that really catches my ear."
He cites Chet Atkins and Earl Klugh as the guitarists he most admires.
Wallace said he learned to play guitar in the fourth or fifth grade when his older brother started playing.
"I just picked it up," he said And he still plays with his brother when the two get together.
Born in Detroit, Wallace left teaching there to move to St. John in 1984 just as Tropical Storm Klaus was about to hit. The storm's arrival came after days and days of gray cloudy weather.
"It rained for two weeks," he said.
He moved at the suggestion of a student whose brother worked at Maho Bay Camps. "I had never heard of the Virgin Islands, so I just came," he said.
He soon settled in to life on St. John, but continued to study and play guitar.
He's now a family man, with wife Brenda and two sons, Kade, 7, and Landis, 8. Wallace said he recently bought a couple of acres of land in Fish Bay, which he cleared to make a football field next to his house so he can play with his boys.
Working full time during the day with Innovative Builders, playing music several nights and week and spending time with his family doesn't leave much free time. He said he and his wife are able to keep things on an even keel because St. John is small. For example, when he has to play music, he can drop the kids off to stay with his wife at her Mongoose Junction job.
"But in my spare time I practice guitar," he said, getting back to what's closest to his heart.
Catch Wallace from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays at Ocean Grill in Mongoose Junction shopping center; from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays at Gecko Gazebo's open mike in Mongoose Junction; from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays at Morgan's Mango restaurant in Cruz Bay; and from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays at Aqua Bistro at Cocoloba shopping center in Coral Bay.
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