Mojo Mark Cihlar
Mojo Mark Cihlar has been a fixture of the Chicago blues scene for over 30 years. From the well-known to the obscure, he’s played with so many Chicago bluesmen and women that it’s almost mind boggling. The list of Chicago musicians he’s played with is seemingly endless – including long stints with the Aces (Little Walter’s band), Eddie C. Campbell, Kansas City Red, Big Smokey Smothers, Little Arthur Duncan, Lester Davenport, Willie Buck, and Taildragger. He’s been both a sideman and led his own band. A multi-talented musician, he has played harmonica, guitar, bass, piano, and even drums in working blues bands across the city. Most recently his unmistakably fine harmonica playing can be heard on Eddie C. Campbell’s 2010 Blues Foundation “CD of the Year” nominated Delmark recording “Tear This World Up.” But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Mark’s father Orr gets the credit for sparking his interest in the blues. Born in Chicago (conceived after his mother and father had attended an NCAAP convention in Chicago!) and raised in nearby Rolling Meadows, his dad exposed him to blues and jazz at an early age via both records and live performances. Orr’s father (Mark’s grandfather Orloff Cihlar) had been a Chicago area dance bandleader known as Count Orloff - who spent time as a drummer with the flamboyant hustler/promoter Husk O’Hare and his big band - playing in halls and speakeasy’s throughout the Chicago area and beyond in the twenties and thirties. Mark’s dad would take him to places like The Cellar in Arlington Heights to hear jazz and blues. Not surprisingly, Mark’s older brother Grant was also a musician – a guitar player - and together they formed a band (Mark’s first band) - The Orloff Brother’s Moving Company with Mark playing harmonica.