HAT'S THE PLAN

Beret-wearing Mark McGuinn is making waves in a sea of Stetsons

Story by Larry Holden • Photo by Chuck Jones

When "Mrs. Steven Rudy" created a tidal wave on the country charts, Mark McGuinn became captain of his own musical ship - but he had trouble at the helm of a rowboat in the video for his new single, "That's A Plan."

"You should've seen the faces of the director and crew when I was supposed to row straight out to sea," confesses Mark with a chuckle, "and I ended up going in a circle!

"I admit it - I rowed like a fish out of water," he adds. "I blame it on the lack of oar locks on the rowboat. But, hey, I did get better with the oars as the day rolled on."

With his debut smash "Mrs. Steven Rudy" and now "That's A Plan," both from his self-titled CD, Mark's already rocked country music's boat with his innovative sound - and hipster, beret-topped look. Even so, another song that could well be his third single, "She Doesn't Dance," is a traditional-tinted tune that would make George Strait proud.

Mark's awkward oarmanship while filming the "That's A Plan" video in Panama City, Fla., certainly wasn't because he feared the sea.

"I'm a water baby - I love the ocean," he explains. "The waves and the vastness have always been extremely calming to me. Growing up in Greensboro, N.C., I lived only two and half hours from the Atlantic Ocean. I went there as often as I could. It was wonderful."

'Wonderful' is the word Mark uses to describe the first time he heard "That's A Plan."

"When I first started writing songs for a Nashville publishing company," he says, "I went over the songs in inventory. I heard 'That's A Plan,' by David Leone and Bobby E. Boyd, and knew it was a hit.

"The song taps into that wanderlust most people experience when they want to leave their hometown and go out into the world. I love the line Gonna hitch my wagon to a wandering star. And the song also deals with the realization that you're going to probably come back to the place you leave."

Mark felt that wanderlust growing up. "The grass always seems to be greener somewhere else when you're young," he confesses. "I was no different.

"But I truly enjoyed my childhood. My folks and some great friends still live in North Carolina. We weren't rich, but I never knew it. I can't ever remember wanting for anything, but I look back and wonder, 'Wow! How did my parents raise five kids?' They did an amazing job."

Today, Mark confides he's enjoying adulthood as much as he enjoyed being a kid. And right now he's getting his kicks on dry land.

"I played soccer for 20 years," he explains. "I even played for a semi-pro team, the Greensboro Dynamos. I recently played with a soccer league here in Nashville, and I had the best time. It got the fires burning again."

In the future, as he runs onto a playing field, Mark will no doubt be breathing a sigh of relief: Soccer doesn't require oars.

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