"His pants are loose but his playing is tight." - A Beat fan from Newcastle, England


Hard Country

Mark London Sims’ passion is creating music. Inspired by his grandmother, a gospel pianist, and his cousins, the musicians for the A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) church he grew up in, Mark has filled his life with joyous musical opportunities. A native of San Bernardino, California, the hard country, Mark was raised on soul music from the 60’s and 70’s like The Meters and the Ohio Players. While his parents were at work, he’d spin Motown albums on his grandmother’s record player. At 11, his big chance came to play guitar when his uncle needed money to go to college. Mark's uncle sold him an electric guitar for eleven dollars. Unable to afford lessons, Mark bought a couple of guitar books and began teaching himself music.

 From that point until now, Mark’s relationship with music has been ever-growing stronger and unbroken. 

While an undergraduate in the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Mark started a couple of jazz groups for which he composed music. At the same time he started playing bass because he couldn't find a bass player for his groups. It was there while practicing in his dorm room that he fell in love with the bass.

 After graduating at the top of his class with a Master’s degree in Jazz  Composition and African music from California Institute of the Arts where he studied with James Newton, Kobla and Alfred Lakzekpo, Beatrice Lawluwi, and C.K. Ganyo as well as the late legendary bassist Charlie Haden, Mark based himself in Los Angeles where he enjoyed playing reggae and soca with a multitude of awe-inspiring musicians. He spent the 90’s playing reggae and soca in clubs in Southern California. That led to him playing with The Untouchables and The English Beat. He has also been the pianist/musical director for Saint Lawrence Church in Watts for 20 years.


With an unyielding commitment to live music, Mark has played shows throughout Europe, North America and Asia. In addition to several U.S. tours, his schedules have included the Montreux Jazz and Afro Pfingsten World Music festivals in Switzerland, the Summerjam Reggae Festival in Germany, Colours of Ostrava in the Czech Republic, Woodstock in Poland, with performances in Greenland, Iceland and Taiwan. He has worked with Don Cherry (Ornette Coleman), Joe Higgs  (Bob Marley), Stevie Wonder, Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath (Heath  Brothers,  John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock), Charles Neville (Neville Bros), Percy Sledge, Ralph McDonald, Robert Greenidge (Jimmy Buffet), The Watts Prophets, Boujou Badialy Cissoko, The Mighty Sparrow, Floyd Domino (Asleep at the Wheel), Calypso Rose, Ken 'Professor' Philmore, Baron, Wei Wei Wuu, Aziz Faye, Sonja Marie, The Eels, Nels Cline (Wilco),  Rocky Dawuni, Mark Nauseef (Thin Lizzy), L. Shankar, Ben Harper, and the maestro ‘JR’ Crawford.

Mark also appears on over 50 recordings. He plays bass on the Grammy-nominated Rocky Dawuni album, 'Branches of the Same Tree.'  He has written, recorded and produced two albums under his name, 'Strange Groove Picnic' and 'Limited Expression.' Several others bear his original compositions. One such record, ‘Dark' was honored as one of Billboard Magazine's top 30 Classic Progressive Music recordings of the twentieth century.