RIP: Mark Wilken, 1959-2016
By Greg Haymes
Photographs by Jeff Mattice, Nicholl Bautochka
Mark Wilken died on Monday afternoon (January 11) following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 57 years old. Wilken’s bass playing was the foundation of numerous Greater Nippertown bands. He was a founding member of ’70s-’80s garage rock greats the A.D.’s and later went on to join the popular Local 518 band, Mambo-X.
After moving to Schoharie Valley with his wife Yvonne Bautochka in 1999, they ran the Hotel Austin, a Central Bridge venue dedicated to hosting live music. And Wilken continued to play in bands, most notably with Crash Course.
But Wilken may ultimately be best known for his generosity in providing dozens of young bands the opportunity to record their music inexpensively (and often for free) at his home studio on Park Avenue in Albany. The music was often released as seven-inch vinyl singles on his own record label, Blue Lunch Records. Wilken often helped out in the studio by playing bass, producing or co-producing, engineering, helping with songwriting and even contributing cover design. A short (and quite incomplete) list of bands on the Blue Lunch roster includes releases by the Dugans, El Extreme, Glasnost, Sleep of Reason, Tilted Edge, Birds of Prey, the Good Sons, Fat Albatross, Mudflapp, Eve Had an Apple, Working Class Stiffs, Push, Frontier Salesman and numerous other bands.
Just last month, there was a day-long celebration of Wilken’s contributions to the Local 518 music scene, “Music for Mark Wilkin,” at the Best Western Inn in Cobleskill. The festivities included performances by the Cooter Brown Band, Crash Course, MoonShine Junkies, FlashBack and a reunion of the A.D.’s with Wilken managing to make his way up to the stage to play the encore with the band.
A period of visitation for Mark Wilken will be held from 2-4pm on Sunday (January 17) at the Langan Funeral Home in Schoharie. Memorial contributions may be made to Marathon For A Better Life, PO Box 268, Warnerville, NY 12187; Central Bridge Fire Department Rescue Squad, PO Box 294, Central Bridge, NY 12035; or the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley, PO Box 40, Howes Cave, NY 12092.
Mark Wilken’s obituary