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Mark Vann

On March 4, 2002 Mark Vann, age 39, succumbed to the effects of cancer at his home near Longmont Colorado. His six month battle with the disease was marked by immense love and support from family, friends, and the music community across the country. He will be greatly missed.

Mark was born December 28, 1962 in Rockville, Maryland to parents Ricki and Bryant Vann. His life changed forever on July 4, 1972 when he heard Carl Pagter play the five string banjo at the Festival of American Folklife. Soon afterwards, Mark formed his first band with his brother Mike on mandolin, his father on guitar, and mother on upright bass. As his appetite for music grew, his parents sought out other musicians in the D.C. area to help him along. The area is home to lots of bluegrass and they were quite successful at keeping him musically fueled. 

When Mark went off to college his band The Farmers Trust Company kept him sufficiently distracted to save him from a life of academia and lead him further down the bluegrass highway. After two years of college Mark retreated to the Piney Pines of Northern Virginia where he built himself a one room cabin and played the banjo all day for two years.

It was during this time that he met Jennifer Loud while on a trip to upstate New York. Love eventually lured him out of the woods, and he and Jennifer started a carpentry business, bought a home, got a dog, and began their lives together.

It was on a trip to Telluride, Colorado in 1989 that he won the banjo contest and met Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman pickiní late night at the campground. Mark was enticed from his home and business by his new friends who convinced him he needed to play banjo for a living. Soon he and Jennifer loaded up the truck and headed for Colorado to join the Left Hand String Band. Shortly afterwards, Leftover Salmon was born, and thus began life on the road.

For the next twelve years Mark brought the banjo to whole new audiences and genres of music. He quickly became one of the most respected players in his field and brought immense joy to those lucky enough to hear him.

A celebration of his life will take place on an as yet to be determined date in the spring.  Mark lived life to its fullest and he would insist that we do so as well. He will be greatly missed and will continue to be an inspiration to many to go big! 

Rest well our brother,

Vince Herman, Leftover Salmon
(March 2002)