Minnesota had already produced its share of acoustic guitar champions in the form of Bob Dylan by the time brothers Peter and Mark Lang were coming of age. They too were haunted by the blues and picked up the guitar at a young age, though the eldest, Peter, was the more austere player. Mark wasn’t obsessed with guitar in his youth, and only out of sibling rivalry did he take a more serious approach to the instrument.
The Langs moved to California in 1968, chasing the dream to the barrios of Venice Beach, where “Strawberry Man” was written about a guy who cruised the neighborhood selling fruits and vegetables out of the back of his pick-up. The Langs then sought out labels to release their material. Peter impressed John Fahey in the early 1970s; by '73, Takoma had issued The Thing At The Bedroom Window. Mark sent out demos and got interest from Takoma as well, but Peter’s experience there, though not necessarily bad, led Mark elsewhere. George Hanson at Symposium Records back home had raised his profile by issuing Leo Kottke’s second album, Circle Around The Sun, which led to Hanson's Takoma deal. Mark sent a demo to Hanson, and they quickly made an agreement to issue Mark’s first album, Texas John Boscoe, in 1976. Mark moved back home to record the sessions at Sound 80, recently used to record large chunks of Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks. The sessions were a success, the LP superb. It did well enough but ultimately failed to catapult Mark to the level of fame that Kottke’s Symposium recordings had.
Unlike Peter, who has continued to release his recordings privately or with small labels since those first days at Takoma, the younger Lang felt that the right direction for him was to secure a deal with a major label. He found an agent, recorded demos, and ultimately signed a deal with Capitol Records in 1980. His incredible skill validated, the deal ultimately led nowhere. Mark Lang’s Capital debut never materialized, and with this final disappointment, he latched his guitar case for good and moved on.