Picked to Click 2012: #3 (tie). John Mark Nelson

Picked to Click 2012: #3 (tie). John Mark Nelson
Photo by Jim Larson

#3 (tie). John Mark Nelson: 71 points

"I don't get out much," jokes 18-year-old folk artist John Mark Nelson, when asked how he's managed to already record two full-length albums. But with the amount of buzz generated around his sophomore record, Waiting and Waiting, he might have to force himself out to play some more live shows for his expanding fan base.

The acoustic-based songs featured on the album are augmented by soaring string arrangements, subtle keyboard flourishes, and poignant, wise-beyond-his-years lyrics delivered with Nelson's rich, sonorous vocals. The numbers have a timeless quality to them while still managing to have a modern pulse, which could be the result of Nelson's talented genes and his early influences. "I grew up in a musical family, and soon realized it was one of the few Nelson talents," he says. "I eventually discovered that my true calling was singing a strict tenor line along with my Beach Boys greatest hits CD."

Everything on Waiting and Waiting, save for the strings, was recorded at home with the aid of modern technology. "Advances in home recording have made the once far-off, hazy idea of making your own record into a tangible reality," he says. "It gives artists the ability to create and share, on a budget. On the down side, you get a lot of emotional Coldplay covers on YouTube."

Nelson has currently put plans to study at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul on hold temporarily while he focuses on supporting Waiting and Waiting. After his rousing record-release show at the Entry back in August, which Nelson said was a "very powerful experience," his next scheduled performance is supporting the Hush Sound at the Triple Rock on October 28. He promises more live dates will be planned soon -- just not always with the sprawling backing band. "The 10-piece band is a riot," he says. "That being said, I don't want to get overly comfortable in one sonic spectrum. Moving forward, I foresee implementing a lot of new and exciting elements into the live show."

And while the growing attention might derail any young songwriter, Nelson remains grounded and appreciative of his brief time in the musical limelight. "I am just very thankful," he says."Everything that has happened to me in the last four months is much more the story of a supportive and encouraging city than it is a story about me. Whatever happens in the next few years, I will always look back on this season with a humble, grateful heart."

John Mark Nelson with the Hush Sound. 5 p.m. Sunday, October 28 at Triple Rock Social Club. Click here.

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