Marvelous ‘Over Time’: Mark Marvel – Music Man

9 mark marvel over time NEW

Over Time classic rock band members, from left: Eric Tsavdar; Tim Berzins; Greg Reynolds; Mark Marvel; John Ragonese; and Jordan Marvel.

School connections sometimes fade over time.

One born at Indian River High School more than a decade ago has survived the test of time – and continues to rock in the musical spotlight.

Mark Marvel is a 1977 Indian River High School graduate. He returned to his IRHS alma mater armed with degrees from Salisbury State College in music education and a passion. He retired from IRHS last year after 32 years during which he impacted scores of students through music instruction, punctuated by band and stage performances.

9 MARK MARVEL guitar outside

Mark Marvel’s passion for music and music arrangement has not diminished over time.

On weekends, he takes the stage – with his trademark white hair and beard – as lead guitarist and vocalist with Over Time, a classic rock band whose roots were planted in pit bands for stage band performances at Indian River High.

His son Jason Marvel, who plays trumpet and occasional bass guitar, and stepson Eric Tsavdar, keyboards and lead vocals, are Over Time members. Other members are Tim Berzins, drums; Greg Reynolds, lead singer/bass guitar; and John Ragonese, tenor saxophone.

Depending on the gig, Over Time can be a six-piece band or four-piece, with an occasional substitute. (You can catch Over Time Saturday, Sept. 19 at Millsboro’s Boro Bash. Their gig starts at 5 p.m. ).

In “retirement,” Mr. Marvel, 56, offers private music lessons. He has aspirations of becoming a professional arranger and song writer. His plans also include a small independent film project.

Here is … Mark Marvel – the Music Man.

How did Over Time get started?

“There’s a lot of music talent there. They were all my students. That’s how it kind of got started. They were my pit band for like my stage band shows. It’s like the light bulb went on over my head. I’m like, ‘Wow, these guys are good. We could put a band together.’ So we put the band together. Of course they didn’t know Runaround Sue from a man in the moon. So I had to teach them all of these old classics and standard things that you have to play. It was a little rough around the edges in the beginning because they didn’t know this stuff but they are very good musicians – all of them – and they caught on very quickly.”

“We’re related. We’re family. Other than John, the other guys were my students. Even the guy that substitutes for drums when Tim doesn’t come down (from Newark) when we play the four-piece, even he was a former student of mine back in 1980’s. It’s really cool. I’m really proud of the guys. They’ve come a long way. They’ve refined themselves into wonderful musicians. I write all of the arrangements, the horn charts for the band. And Ray Berzins (drummer Tim Berzins’ father) is our manager. He is an amazing manager. He books all of the gigs.”

“This is our 11th year. The first four years or so, we didn’t have horns. Then we added the horns later, and of course … people love that. And that helped us get a lot of wedding gigs. When people hire a wedding band they love to have horns.”

The band’s name, how did “Over Time” come about?

“A lot of people mistake us; they call us ‘Overtime’ like you are working overtime. I originally had intended it that we’d play lots of music over a different period – over time – 50s to current. You have to.”

Feedback: What do your audiences like most?

“People love our play list. One of the best compliments I think we get is on our play list. People are like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you play all of those different styles.’ You’ve got Brown Sugar, Soul Man.  Of course when you are hearing all these songs with the horns they sound just like the record. They sound just like the recording. We get a lot of compliments because you don’t see too many horn bands anymore. Our horn players are really, really good. And with the wireless mics, they go out in the crowd and dance and play right in the crowd. The No. 1 compliment we always get is the play list. We just do everything.”

9 Mark Marvel with Eric Berzins

Mark Marvel, left, and step-son and former Indian River High School student Eric Tsavdar go over some arrangement for a song Eric wrote that is the official town song for South Bethany.

“We’ve got tons and tons of songs that aren’t even on that play list. You rotate it around.

Brown Eyed Girl, Can’t Help Falling in Love With You, Sweet Caroline, I Feel Good, Lynyrd Skynyrd … Born to Run. Those are some of the staples.”

“And my stepson (Eric Tsavdar) is an amazing singer and sings Let It Be and Hey Jude, I mean he sounds just as good as Paul McCartney!”

What tops your memory list during your teaching tenure at Indian River High School?

“My favorite thing of the year was doing the stage band show. That always had some kind of theme. One year it would be “Best of Broadway.” The last one we did was called “Movie Magic” … all songs from movies; James Bond movie theme songs; Titanic … and that was fun. Again, it goes right back to that Andrew Lloyd Webber thing. I wrote all of the arrangements for guitar, bass drums, keyboard plus a wind section.”

Where did you get your passion for music?

“My dad played trumpet when he was a boy. He loved music. He played Big Band music in the house when I was a kid. His favorite was Harry James because he was a trumpet player. He got me into that. I played a lot of music in church growing up. I majored in trumpet so I played a lot of trumpet solos and things like that. When I saw the Beatles on TV … like everybody else my age, it was like ‘Oh, I have to do that.’”

9 MARK MARVEL old farmhouse

This old farm house is where Mark Marvel, then a teenager, and fellow band members practiced in his first performing band.

So when I was about 14, I got a guitar and taught myself how to play guitar. I started a little rock band. We used to practice in that old abandoned farm house (near his country homestead east of Dagsboro). That was back in 1975 and 1976. The first band I ever played in was called Chaos. We sucked. We were bad. But you’re 16 years old; that’s how you learn. That’s where I learned how to play and write music and stuff.”

“My first interest was trumpet. That’s what I majored in in college. I wanted to be a music teacher. Of course one of my big passions was guitar … all the greats like Eric Clapton. I like classic rock; Deep Purple, Boston, Aerosmith, the Doobie Brothers, KISS …”

You not only perform but arrange music?

“I have always loved Broadway music and that kind of thing and that’s what was peaked my interest and got me started in arranging music. What got me started – Jesus Christ Superstar. When Andrew Lloyd Webber – I was in junior high school – came out with Jesus Christ Superstar it was the first time I had ever heard orchestral instruments – like trumpets, violins – with guitar, bass drums and keyboards. That was my first introduction. They called it a rock opera at that time. I went absolutely crazy over that.”

“From teaching school out of necessity I would write and arrange my own songs for like stage band and pit band and stuff like that. After 32 years of doing that you get pretty good at it. You either get good at it or you quit. I learned that from doing it. I really enjoy doing that.”

Sounds like music will keep you busy in retirement?

“One of the things I want do in retirement is I want to do is write and arrange music for a living. I know there is money to be made doing this. I’ve only been retired since last year. I’ve got to check into all of the rules about the musicians’ union and all those kinds of things. I’m just in the beginning stages of finding all of that out. That’s one of my goals as a retired musician is to become a professional arranger and song writer.”

“I’m going to start this music arranging and original song writing company. I haven’t come up with a name yet. I wrote my first original concert band piece about four years ago. I called it “A Night in New York.” I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge one summer. It was on my bucket list. So I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. That’s pretty close to where the Twin Towers were. I walked down to Ground Zero. What I noticed is how noisy the city was around the Brooklyn Bridge. You just hear cars, people and all of the city noise. The closer you got to Ground Zero, the quieter it got. When I got right to Ground Zero I mean you could hear a pin drop. That gave me the idea to write a song called “A Night in New York.” The first section was upbeat, fast and happy sounding. The middle section was more somber and slow, kind of sad sounding, and then when I walked back from Ground Zero, it was like the city came of life again. That was the idea behind that song. I’ve never submitted that yet to a publisher but it is on my list of things to do. But I thought it came out really well. I’d like to write a lot more original things. I don’t know if I will ever make it in that business, but it’s a dream.”

“And I’ve been teaching private music lessons for like 35 years …”

What might the future hold for Over Time?

“I have played in several different bands, obviously throughout my life. But this band has been the most fun and the most successful. We are in pretty high demand. When you get to places like BJ’s (on the Water), or M.R. Ducks or Sunset Grille then it’s the big-time. The only thing we could do better which we will never be able to do is to play like Seacrets or something like that. They only hire bands that book through booking agencies. We’re just local guys with day jobs. You can’t even get your foot in the door at the Bottle and Cork or Seacrets or places like that unless you are assigned to a talent agency. But I don’t care. We’re playing every weekend and making money and it is still fun.”

“And we’d like to double or triple the amount weddings. We are an outstanding wedding band. I usually do all of the master of ceremonies stuff. We take care of any special songs. When you play a wedding, they party!”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com.

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