Reno Del Mar
(Reno Del Mar)


While listening to this CD, I noticed my blood pressure dropped a few points. For a native NYC resident that can only mean a good thing. Why? I picture a sultry South Florida night, palm trees swaying, a/c humming, a coconut cooler in my hand and as I lounge sitting poolside Reno del Mar are spinning their twin flamenco-jazz guitar sound. For those just tuning in to my fantasy, Reno del Mar features the dueling acoustic guitars of Mark Wilsey and Phil Lipman, two cats who have been playing together for 30+ years and both are from New Jersey originally. Somehow 25 years ago, these guys migrated to Arizona so you can alternate my South Florida cool Jazziz smooth sound with the Sedona / New Mexico desert flamenco vision while adding in a healthy respect for the refined Nashville smooth country flecked jazz of the man, Chet Atkins. That’s just how adept Phil and Mark are at blending their all original, yet quite derivative guitar sound. A couple highlights here, “Feral Kitten Waltz” as well as “Can’t Handle That Rag” sound like the kind of songs Chet would flip for and for that matter, add in a touch of vintage Les Paul style jazz guitar finesse to the mix! A gifted guitarist and composer, Mark Wilsey handles many of the compositions with Phil Lipman co-writing on a few tracks as well as contributing “Ed’s Bossa.” The duo’s smooth as silk guitar stylings are balanced out by the refined rhythm section of Jeff Rodenkirch (bass) and Dave Walton (drums). There may be an eager urge for genre typicrats to label these guys as being just smooth jazz. Sure there’s that breezy, catchy, tropical sort of vista here, yet scratch underneath and you’ll also find a solid foundation of pop instrumental, country / bluegrass, flamenco and a even a touch of Steve Howe style Guitar-eclectica that’s bound to please guitar enthusiasts, audio buffs and music lovers, play after play.

MUSIC WEB EXPRESS 3000 presents
Phil Lipman and Mark Wilsey

Guitars Center Stage

Guitarists making waves in the music world,
their new recordings and gear!

Musical Background

: Mark and I grew up in Edison, New Jersey in the same neighborhood. I was lucky to have had a persistent guitar teacher in the 1st grade who taught me the importance of practicing. Mark and I met in junior high school and we quickly discovered we had a lot of common influences including country, jazz, Grateful Dead, etc... I am mainly a guitar player, acoustic and electric. I can play rudimentary bass as well.

MARK WILSEY: I started playing music at the age of 12. I took some drum lessons and practiced Buddy Rich paradiddles. There was a piano in the house and I taught myself to play stuff by ear. When I was 14 a friend gave me a flute. I taught myself how to play some Jethro Tull and Moody Blues on the flute. After a year I started jamming with guitar players. I liked guitar so I started borrowing guitars from the people I was jamming with. Later my parents bought me a Penco acoustic guitar and I started studying Mel Bay guitar method with Chris Phoebus at a local music store. Chris was a great guy and a great guitar player. He wrote out some blues changes for me to jam with. Some were basic and others were pretty complicated, with chromaticism and substitutions. A friend of mine, Mary Sara Bransfield, lent me her brother’s late 50’s Gibson ES 125 for a summer. It was a sweet guitar. I was lucky to have that for a while. I played it constantly and years later I bought one and still have it.

My sister’s boyfriend, Joey Ruscito, an excellent piano player and singer, turned me on to the Grateful Dead. He loaned me the American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead albums. I was still playing the Penco acoustic mostly, but I bought a cheap electric hollow body and an Alamo tube amp.

I met Phil around this time, it was probably 1974, and we have been playing together ever since. We both loved the Dead album “Bear’s Choice” and played all those songs. I remember teaching myself all the songs from the Credence Clearwater album Willie and the Poor Boys. That is a great album for beginning guitar players to explore.

When I met Phil, he came over to my house with my girlfriend, Karen Stern. Karen was an amazing classical harpist. She was national champion for years as a child. When we were dating she was on hiatus from playing the harp because it had become such a grind. She had two nice classical guitars that I loved to play. They were the first nylon string guitars for me and as time went on, the nylon string became my instrument of choice. Me, Phil and some other boys from the neighborhood would jam on Grateful Dead songs in my parents garage. Later I bought my first real electric for two hundred dollars, an early 60’s Gibson SG.

I went to college at Northeastern University in Boston for a year in 1975. While I was there I played in a bluegrass band, a blues duo with a harmonica player, and a medieval ensemble with recorders. I lived with my parents in the fall of 1976 and took lessons in a group adult continuing education setting. The teacher and I became friends and he would come over my house after the class and show me cool stuff to play like Santana and the Allman Brother’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”.

I moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1977. I started taking lessons from Steve “Slim” Edelman. Slim was a former roadie for the Grateful Dead. He could play a lot of different styles on guitar and also played banjo, fiddle, bass and dobro. Slim showed me some stuff I was interested in from the Hillbilly Jazz album that David Bromberg and Vasar Clemens put out. The songs “Panhandle Rag” and “Breakfast Feud” (of Benny Goodman and Charlie Christian fame) were two of the songs he showed me. Phil and I still love to play those songs. I wrote two songs, “Can’t Handle That Rag” and “Food Fight” that are similar to those so we could play and record them without infringing on any copyrights. “Can’t Handle That Rag” is the third song on our CD. I love that jumping, two step swing stuff.

I moved to Bisbee, Arizona in 1978. I was working in the co-op and told a woman I worked with that I played guitar. The next day her boyfriend comes in and asks me if I played the bass. I didn’t, but I said “sure”. I didn’t have a bass. He said he had a bass I could use and told me to come to his house for rehearsal. I get to rehearsal and he drops jazz charts in front of me. So I was playing bass and jazz for the first time simultaneously. We did Miles Davis, Theolonius Monk, Herbie Hancock, stuff like that. I got fired from that band because the leader said I played guitar better than he did! A few months later I started playing guitar and bass, and singing in a country/reggae/Grateful Dead band called Crystal Pickins. That was a lot of fun.

I moved back to Tucson and entered the University of Arizona School of Music. I received a bachelors degree in jazz and contemporary media. I majored in guitar and minored in voice. The guitar professor at the University of Arizona was Larry Munson. He was a great player and a cool guy. He played jazz and classical and could sight-read anything. He left the university because he was offered a position at USC teaching in the commercial/jazz guitar program. Larry was replaced by Thomas Patterson. Tom is all classical and built a very strong classical guitar program. Tom brought in some excellent graduate students and one of them, Rick Hetland, had some jazz background. Rick was assigned the jazz guitar students left over from the Larry Munson era, and Phil and I both studied with him.

I wound up working in Slim’s music store giving lessons and covering the counter. Slim taught me some mandolin and banjo. Phil moved to Tucson and he and I did some bluegrass gigs with Phil on guitar, me on mandolin, and Slim on fiddle, banjo, and dobro. Phil and I started a group called “Antelope” that is similar to Reno del Mar. We played as a duo and as a quartet. We played a lot of jazz standards, but also did some originals. We still play some of the songs we wrote back then including “The Bohemian” which is on our CD.

I played guitar and sang in a reggae/ska band in the late 70’s and early 80’s called the Uptones. We were voted Tucson’s band of the year in 1982. We did covers and originals. I wrote seventy five percent of the original stuff we did. I played my Gibson SG through various Fender amps, with an Ibanez AD202 analog processor for delay, chorus and flanging. The AD 202 is a great analog processor with nice chorus, delay and flange sounds.

After the reggae band, I dropped out of the music scene for a while. I still played, but not professionally. I bought some home recording gear and continued to write and record my tunes. Phil moved to Boston and was attending Berklee School of Music. Phil and I and a singer/songwriter pianist/guitarist named Chris Scelfo would send tapes to each other. We had compatible gear and could add parts and send them back and forth. It was cassette so it was hissy, but we did some good collaborating. I went back east every summer and would spend time with Phil jamming and hanging out.

I had a rock/country trio for a few years called Wreckage. I played bass and guitar and sang. It was great exploring the power trio combo. You have to fill up the sound more as a guitarist and a bassist when there are just the three instruments. I started accumulating more guitars and amps during this time. I got a Jackson/Charvel Model 1A with active EMG pickups and a real Floyd Rose system for a hundred fifty dollars. I just sold this guitar. I changed out the pickups for some Carvin high output passive pickups. They are very versatile. I had a Marshall Jubilee head that I played through two 4-12 vintage Vox cabinets with old Celestion speakers in it. That set-up sounded huge. I traded one of the cabinets and the Jubilee for a new reissue Fender Vibro-Verb. The Vibroverb is a great amp, but I wish I still had that Jubilee.

Phil moved back to Tucson around 10 years ago. I wasn’t playing much at that time. He gave me a G&L Broadcaster to inspire me to play more. It worked. We started Reno del Mar around 4 years ago. It’s pretty amazing to be playing music with the same person for over 35 years. I feel really lucky, especially since it is Phil who is a very solid dude and an excellent musician.

New CD

PL: The name of this band and the CD is Reno Del Mar. It was recorded at my home studio, Undisclosed Location in Tucson, AZ. The players were Mark Wilsey (co-leader) on mostly nylon string guitar, some dobro, some electric baritone, me, Phil Lipman on steel string acoustics, Jeff Rodenkirch on basses, Dave Walton on drums and percussion. It was recorded analog to a two inch tape machine. We play live a lot, and these arrangements reflect years of collaboration and tones and arrangements we have been working on for a long time. We didn't use any pedals.

Favorite Guitars

MW: I have a Ramirez model 2CWE classical guitar that I used for most of my parts on the CD. It has a great sound and plays nicely. Mike Lennon set it up. When we perform live, I use a Taylor NS32CE. This guitar has the smaller scale neck and narrower fret board width like a flamenco guitar. I play it through a Fishman Aura Imaging processor, Boss tremolo and delay pedals, and lastly a Boss volume pedal. This signal is sent to a Fishman SA220 Solo Performance tower. The SA220 is awesome. Nice balanced sound with a surprising amount of low end.

PL: I primarily played two Martins which belong to an old friend of mine. I had them rebuilt here in Tucson by Rainbow Guitars. They were in unplayable condition. One, which is on the album cover, is a 1930's small-body 00-17 and the bigger-sounding instrument is an incredible 1937 D-18. I use D'Addario strings. When playing live I use a Sunrise pickup and pre-amp into the Fishman SA220.

Musical Influences

MW: Phil and I originally connected musically around a fondness for the Grateful Dead, and particularly the “Bear’s Choice” album. We played bluegrass, blues, folk, etc. together. Early on, people like David Bromberg, John Prine, Charlie Daniels, The Allman Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and Joni Mitchell permeated our listening. As I mentioned earlier, a very influential album was Hillbilly Jazz. Later, as our knowledge grew and our chops got better, we started playing and writing jazz stuff. We started listening to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus and Theolonius Monk. The guitar playing of Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian were both very expanding. More recently, the playing of John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Jim Hall and Martin Taylor have influenced us.

Living in the Southwest USA, there is a lot of Mexican guitar music all over the radio and at various live events. Traveling to Spain, I heard flamenco guitarists in venues where everybody stopped talking when the music started…what a concept! I like what Rodrigo y Gabriella do with mixing flamenco and rock. Gabriella blows my mind with her rhythm playing. There may be other people who play rhythm like her, but I haven’t heard them. I love her attitude. They make so music music and so much sound for just two people playing guitars. Of course they play their guitars like drums some of the time.

Upcoming Plans

PL: We play several nights a month here in Tucson, AZ. We have been fortunate to have been able to play at some of the best local venues, including Kingfisher, Bluefin, Hacienda Del Sol, Maynards, the Frog and Firkin and many private events. We have over 100 new songs that we're itching to record, and we hope to have something done by the end of the year.

Web Site

Mark: Our website is:
It was designed by Nimbit who also did our CD design, MySpace page, Facebook page, and CD duplication. You can contact us at or


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