In the autumn of 1999, Raine Austen, hostess at the Belle Meade Brasserie called local pianist Mark Sorrells to say, "Get over here and try out for pianist at the Brasserie, right now."
Sorrells brought his date for a 9 p.m. tryout at the Piano Bar. "I knew that this was a top-shelf establishment when the owner, Mark Rubin, ordered a glass of wine for my date," Sorrells says.
Sorrells sat down and began to play piano favorites off the cuff. After the beginning of the second song, owner Mark Rubin turned to his chef partner and said, "If you don't hurry up and hire this guy right now, I'm going to do it."And so began the 15-year relationship between Mark Sorrells and the establishment at 106 Harding Place, now known as Whitfield's Restaurant & Bar.
From 1999-2005, Sorrells performed as house pianist for The Brasserie. In 2003, fans Bobby and Pam Chilton asked if Mark would form a band to entertain at their house party. With Jenny Hoeft on drums and Tom Wild on guitar, the Mark Sorrells Trio was born. However, Tom Wild was often on the road with B.J. Thomas, and Jenny Hoeft performed with The Wooten Brothers, so Sorrells called his guitarist friend Gene Ford, with whom he had performed since 1987.
Hoeft recommended a percussion/drum player for those times she was on the road. "His name is Dave Dunseath," Hoeft told Sorrels. "He's played for Lee Ann Womack for years, but they're off the road right now."
Their first practice with Dunseath was actually a Friday night performance at Brasserie. The agenda was to all follow Sorrell's lead. Ford and Sorrells had done this before and knew what to expect but weren't sure about Dunseath. The downbeat came, and two bars into their first song as The Trio, Ford and Sorrells looked at each other in amazement and acknowledgement that this was to be a stellar, long-term musical partnership and friendship.
The Brasserie was sold in 2005, and with change in ownership came a change in concept. The Mark Sorrells Trio subsequently performed for extended stays at the Wild Boar in Nashville, F. Scott's and Saffire in Franklin, TN.
In April of 2012, DeWayne Johnson had purchased Whitfield's and called Sorrells to see if he would be interested in performing at Whitfield's again. Sorrells replied, "I will be there in 20 minutes."
Sorrells and Johnson agreed that Sorrells would once again be affiliated with the exclusive Belle Meade neighborhood restaurant, and The Mark Sorrells Trio has played there every Saturday night since 2012.
About The Trio
The Trio features Bellevue resident Mark Sorrells' versatility on piano and soulful vocal delivery. His deep love of the blues, popular and jazz standards, and New Orleans boogie and backbeat creates an ever-changing palette of sound and feeling as core of The Trio.
Guitarist Gene Ford brings crisp rhythmic accompaniment, well-crafted solos and the signature licks which are part of the Pop Music danceable hits from the 60's, 70's and 80's.
Dave Dunseath adds an uncanny sensitivity to drums and percussion. His set of drums is an expression of respect for The Beatles.
The Beatles were obviously deeply influential in all three musicians' lives, and Beatles faves are featured often during each night's performance.
10 Years at Whitfield's
This year, The Mark Sorrells Trio is celebrating their 10 years together with Whitfield's Restaurant, performing every Saturday night from 6:30-10:30 p.m. Whitfield's is located just a few blocks away from the Belle Meade Mansion, at 106 Harding Place, Nashville, Tenn., 37205. Call 615-356-5450 for reservations or directions.
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