Border Music Blog #1: ‘Benchmark’

Yesterday, we bid farewell to our friend and former bandmate Mark Jordan. We were honoured when his family asked us to perform his music at the service. Each of us found the process of re-learning, rehearsing and performing Mark’s music both moving and cathartic. What was especially poignant was that Mark’s brother, Hugh (also a bassist), seamlessly stepped in to handle the low-end duties in his brother's absence.

We first met Mark in the mid 90s in Letterkenny where we were all students. We had it on good authority that there was a great bass player in the art department. They weren’t wrong. He had ears like a bat and fingers like a pneumatic drill and straight away, the chemistry was there. Zac Drummond on guitar, Mic McGettigan on drums, Allen Gogarty on vocals and me, Marc Geagan on guitar. 

Our first tour, in Italy, was interesting. Particularly when the promoter housed the (very naive) five of us into a three-man tent and fed us cold beef and Guinness stew for the festival duration. Add to that almost not getting paid when the same promoter tried to do a runner only to be chased down by us. His ‘bodyguard’ kept reminding us that he had a gun but five tired, hungover, angry and malnourished Paddies refused to back down and somehow, we all got home safely with a few quid in our pockets. Oddly, we became firmer friends through the shared experience.

After college we each went our separate ways but we remained close. Creative collaborations continued but most memorable were ‘The Gatherings’. usually a ‘sanctimonious rationalisation for licentious behaviour’ but as Mark reminds us in his song Lend Me Your Giants, ‘time like this is so damn precious’.

In more recent times Mark worked on the album designs for jazz maestros Mike Nielsen and Richard Nelson. His many talents also extended to print design and he transformed ‘Songs of Erne’ into a truly beautiful book. He was one of the smartest and wittiest friends we had, with a wicked, acerbic sense of humour. When we last spoke about 2 weeks ago from his hospital bed, he asked if I'd heard about the non-binary gold prospector who said that there was gold in them/there hills? He was a brilliant songwriter and a great bass player, a Modal Citizen, our musical brother and this is his Benchmark.

Benchmark by Mark Jordan

Jordo on bass

Kaine

Stone River, Clifden circa 1997

Zac, Allen, Marc & Jordo

Lend Me Your Giants by Mark Jordan

“We'll gather ourselves in this room while we can

Each one a star in this life's firmament

And we'll drink like heroes like only we should

Still bonded by pain, laughter and a strange brotherhood

And we'll drain our glass in memories of those that are gone

We'll offer them praises in word, deed and song

And we'll think of those who couldn't make it today

Warm in the thoughts of some shared yesterdays”

Lend Me Your Giants

Running to Stand Still - Stone River (U2 Cover)

Stone Rivers first recording in over 20 years, a lockdown reunion interpretation of U2s classic from The Joshua Tree, "Running to Stand Still". Recorded in Ireland, the UK and New York. Copyright U2 1987. Musicians: Mark Jordan, Mic McGettigan, Zac Drummond, Marc Geagan, Allen Gogarty.