We have a motto,” says Dr. Mark Nolan Hill, lead singer, guitarist, and keyboardist of Dr. Mark and the Sutures, a not-for-profit rock band who perfectly channels the best of The Beatles.
“When it’s not fun anymore, we quit.” Well, they must be having one heck of time, because Dr. Nolan Hill and his bandmates have been rocking the North Shore and Chicago for the past 25 years and show no signs of slowing down.
Dr. Nolan Hill’s passion for life and music was given to him by his late father, Bert Hill, a talented jazz guitarist who jammed with the likes of Les Paul and Wes Montgomery. At the age of 13, Dr. Nolan Hill joined the musicians union and became a wedding singer. “In those days, you were hired in pickup bands,” he explains of the wedding circuit process. “I was told ‘blue’ or ‘white’ for each gig, which referred to what color ruffled tuxedo shirt I should wear.” His frequent bookings and palpable love for music carried him all the way through college and medical school, with a final stop in Boston for an internship and residency at Harvard. There, a “closet rocker,” Dr. Nolan Hill honed his talents, both musically and professionally.
Once back in Chicago, the only people who were aware of his talents were his neighbors, who could hear his nightly jam sessions through the walls. A neighbor, who was putting together a block party, had asked Dr. Nolan Hill if he could throw together some friends and perform for her neighborhood event. Add an incredible evening of music, friends, and neighbors, plus one visit from the local police after a noise complaint, and Dr. Mark and the Sutures was born.
Shortly thereafter, attention to the band swelled. But while their talent is what made people take notice, the fact that they performed for no remuneration was what kept people talking. The band hit the charity circuit hard, performing for not-for-profit events hosted by big names like the American Cancer Society and Misericordia. Dr. Mark and his bandmates, who playfully don hospital scrubs while performing, would have it no other way. “I’m very lucky all my bandmates feel as I do,” explains Dr. Nolan Hill.
What an example Dr. Nolan Hill has been. His oldest son, Adam, began playing with the band at the tender age of 7. When Adam comes back periodically from his time in England, where he just received his Ph.D. and will begin a university faculty appointment, he jumps in and performs with the band. “He’s an unbelievable lead guitarist,” Dr. Nolan Hill says of his son. “Adam is like what my father was. He’s always loved music.
While only performing about six shows a year, with one definite stop each year at Highland Park’s Port Clinton Art Festival, Dr. Mark and the Sutures are no strangers to the big stage. They have played at such venues as Ravinia and the Allstate Arena, and have opened for Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, and Randy Travis. Chicago Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Emeritus Victor Aitay has also joined them onstage. To say that Dr. Mark and the Sutures have great range is an understatement. But as with any band, it couldn’t be done without the great synergy of a pretty amazing group of people. “My mates all are extremely talented. To be with a group of guys as great as they are makes me a better musician, without question.”
For inquiries about booking Dr. Mark and the Sutures, call 847-918-9420. —Stacy Flannery