When singer/songwriter Mariana Tirsa discovered Emmylou Harris’ “Ballad of a Runaway Horse,” she was moved both by the poetry of the title and the lonesome, vulnerable spirit of the song. But it wasn’t until she learned that the song was a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Ballad of an Absent Mare” based on the Zen Buddhist 12th century Ten Ox-herding Pictures, a metaphor for the path of enlightenment, that she knew she had found the name for her music project. Under this name she has made music with long time collaboartors, Robert Musemann III, Joseph Manzello and producer/mentor Daniel Barrett.  In 2014 they met three musicians that would fill out the music into a full bodied sound with bassist Alan Burrows, keboardist Robin T. Smith, and drummer Jack Daniels.

Runaway Horse wanders the more eclectic paths of the Americana folk music scene meandering into a sort of folky shoegazing (bootgazing?) sound creating the experience of a transcendent frontier landscape. Mari works with a variety of different musicians and is currently being anchored by Joseph Manzello on electric guitar as she focuses on more solo work.


Joseph Manzello

Joe Manzello on electric guitar

As with countless others before him, Joe’s interest in guitar started with the black & white broadcast of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. A few years later, armed with a $10 acoustic guitar (“you could easily stick your fingers under the strings, the action was so high”), group lessons at the school began the journey that has lasted over 40 years. Never quite satisfied with his sound, Joe is always in pursuit of the perfect guitar tone – changing out amps, guitars and effects, vintage and new. As the Reverend Billy Gibbons says “Ain’t no thang, ‘cept TONE!”

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