Crooner Mark J. Lindquist wants to take big band show on the road
FARGO – Mark Lindquist is a smooth guy. He glides into a room, swoops over to shake your hand and...
... speaks with a radio-ready voice.
"I kind of think I was born in the wrong decade. I always loved Sinatra, Martin, all of the Rat Pack," he says. "Maybe I'm more old school than most 34-year-olds. I'd rather be wearing a tux and tails than a T-shirt and jeans."
A tux and tails is exactly what he'll be wearing Friday and Saturday night when he performs at the Fargo Theatre — at least for part of the show. The singer's concerts were inspired by what would have been Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday on Dec. 12, but it's also a nod to big band crooners and the golden age of Las Vegas concerts. As such, Lindquist even plans a few wardrobe changes for the gigs.
The idea for the show came when he noticed no other big bands were playing the area or touring around here.
As a high-schooler in Ortonville, Minn., a friend — former Fargo DJ James Rabe — gave Lindquist a best-of Sinatra disc and he was immediately hooked on the sound.
"It's old school. It's timeless," Lindquist says. "You can be singing this 50 years from now and you'll still find an audience."
"You listen to a Frank Sinatra recording, you can't help but smile and love that," says saxophonist Russ Peterson, who assembled the band to back Lindquist.
The two met while the singer competed at the Fargo Star finals in 2014, where Peterson's group, Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome, served as the backing band. This weekend Post-Traumatic opens the shows.
The saxophonist assured Lindquist that a Sinatra tribute would be a hit, and so far it has been. The Saturday night show sold so well that Lindquist added a Friday concert.
Lindquist thinks the audience will be a broad one and not just limited to people who were alive during the Rat Pack years.
"I don't think it's going to be just old folks," he says. "It's going to be folks my age and younger, too."
While the focus will be on Sinatra, the show will also feature songs by Tony Bennett, Michael Bublé and Bobby Darin.
Peterson has been impressed that Lindquist isn't trying to just impersonate any of the singers, but incorporating his own style.
"Mark is one of the most flamboyant performers I've ever seen. He's one of the best performers around," Peterson says. "You can't imitate Frank, but you can honor his music and give people a taste of what great music he brought to us."
"I'm not trying to be an impersonator. I'm trying to do the best with the songs he sang," Lindquist says. "I don't think anyone will sit in the audience and think, 'This sounds just like Frank.' It would be great if they did ... You can't be a Sinatra impersonator when you're Asian."
The Korean-born singer is embracing the intersection of his Korean heritage and the late Italian crooner by wearing a #asiansinatra T-shirt. Lindquist adds that he'll be dropping in Asian jokes throughout the show.
He also has a CD out, "Mark J. Lindquist Sings the Classics," which he's selling at the show for $15.
"He's going after it. Everyone who sees the show will appreciate it," says David Ferreira, who plays piano in the band. "He's someone to watch. I think he's headed somewhere."
Lindquist may be better known for his regular day jobs as a motivational speaker and a singer of the national anthem at area events, but he sees this as not just a one-time thing, but a potential new venture. If all goes well, Lindquist wants to bring the show on the road to theaters and casinos.
"If I can figure out how to be a 34-year-old snowbird, I win," he says with a laugh. "What if I can take this from Fargo to the MGM Grand? Someone has got to headline, why not me?"
The Mark J. Lindquist Big Band plays the historic Fargo Theatre
If you go:
What: Mark Lindquist big band with Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome
When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway
Info: Tickets are $35 through tickets300.com and (866) 300-8300
Online: Visit www.inforum.com to listen to two tracks from the CD "Mark J. Lindquist Sings the Classics"