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Acoustic music star unearthed in UK ELT

After not playing his guitar much for 30 years, Mark Waistell, founder and senior partner of Accent International on the south coast in the UK, is making a name for himself on the acoustic music scene. Waistell realised that playing music was the one thing he missed and took some time away from work. He ended up writing 20 songs in 20 days.

"I’m viewing it with great happiness and also good humour"

In a story that reads like a film script, Waistell was buying a new guitar in a music shop and started playing some of his music. A phone call was made by the impressed shop employee and before he knew it, Waistell had a call from a producer (Mark Tucker, who produced Fairport Convention among others) who visited him at home and offered to sign him and help produce an album with session musicians (Latecomer). The rest, as they say, is history.

The studio album was released in May (available on iTunes), a second one is lined up for later this year, and Mark is playing some concerts during the summer.

“It’s surreal, it really is,” Waistell told The PIE News. “I mean the great thing is that I’m at an age now where I can think ‘this is great, I’m really enjoying it but I don’t have to make a living from it’.”

He says he loves all aspects of songwriting, playing and performing.. “It’s fantastic but when people … started asking me for autographs, I’m not used to that. I’m viewing it with great happiness and also good humour.”

“When people … started asking me for autographs, I’m not used to that”

Waistell has no plans to leave the international education industry, which he has been involved with since 1977, but he is able to combine his passion for teaching and education (Accent is a business-focused ELT consultancy) with his music.

“I’ve reached a stage where I delegate a lot of my work, so I’ve got a principal who runs the school basically,” he said. “And I try to be away from the office deliberately two days a week to give the new team chance to establish themselves. So that’s when I can play my music.”

• Additional reporting by Katharina Kocurov.

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