Get our newsletters

Bucks optometrist gaining visibility on the local blues scene


He’s a Levittown optometrist by day but a blues guitar player at night.

This summer, Mark Margolies has been about the busiest he’s ever been on the blues circuit, promoting his debut album “Can’t You See” (8th Train Records).

While the good doctor has been playing blues guitar for quite some time, Margolies’ musical expertise on stage wasn’t always known to his patients.

“Before I recorded the album, I really didn’t advertise that I was a musician,” explains Margolies. “I was playing in other bands and I was a sideman. Once I made the CD, I put a little display in my office.

“Now, the patients come in and they love it. They think it’s great.

“They always want to know where I’m playing next.”

Coming up soon for Margolies and his band are a pair of gigs right here in Bucks County. On Sept. 3, he’s playing an evening gig for Yardley’s Music Off Main Summer Concert Series at Buttonwood Park. Following that, he’ll appear in another outdoor venue Sept. 10 at Falls Township Community Park. And on Sept. 24, he’ll take the stage on the other side of the Delaware at Federal Twist Vineyard in Stockton, N.J.

Playing in a band is not something new for Margolies. He’s been grinding the ax since his teen years and performed in a wedding band after college.

“Being an optometrist – that’s my day job,” he explains. “But I always wanted to do as much as I could with music.

“As I got older, I started investigating the roots of rock and roll, which led me to the blues.”

More than a decade ago, Margolies started bringing his guitar to Sunday evening jam sessions hosted by blues harp man Mikey Junior, a Yardley resident who just so happens to be the producer on “Can’t You See.”

Sharing a love for the same type of music, Mark and Mikey – who is also vice-president of the Bucks County Blues Society (BCBS) – soon became friends. More recently, they’ve shared the same stage at BCBS events at Bucks County Community College, Snipes Farm in Morrisville and Terchon VFW Post (Bristol).

A couple years ago, Mikey came to Mark and told him he thought it was time to lay down some tracks. In the summer of 2021, they did just that.

Mikey wrote the title track to “Can’t You See,” and if you’re looking at the CD jacket, you might think it has something to do with Margolies’ day job.

It doesn’t.

It’s actually a tribute to the doctor’s wife, Sandra. Wed for 38 years, Mrs. Margolies manages Mark’s optometry office. And she’s one of Mark’s biggest supporters.

“She as sweet as she can be

Man she really knocks me out

Testify here on the corner

Yell it all around the town”

“Can’t you see

She’s got what I need

She’s the only one I love

Sandra is the girl for me”

Containing 10 tracks in 31 minutes run time, the CD received rave reviews in a January article. “What a great respite from over-produced blues records. Jazz meets blues here to form a good marriage that will give many hours of listening pleasure to the discerning music lover,” reads the review in Blues Blast Magazine.

Save one track, the remainder of the album contains covers of blues classics.

“Can’t You See” has received extensive airplay on FM radio stations around the country, and on Serious XM.

As the producer, Mikey Junior assembled the band for the recording sessions. In addition to Mark and Mikey, it features Nick Fishman on drums as well as North Jersey axman Dean Shot and Steve Kirsty on saxophone and bass.

Shot introduced Fishman to the project and Mikey Junior brought keyboard player Bill Heid to the table.

After recording “Can’t You See,” both Shot and Kirsty joined The Fabulous Thunderbirds on a national tour.

“They’re both great musicians. Otherwise, they wouldn’t wind up playing with Kim Wilson and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.”

The CD release has transformed Margolies from blues sideman to blues front-man. And that’s meant a busy summer for Dr. Mark, which has included a regular Wednesday night gig at the North End American Grill in Wildwood.

As a duo set, the mid-week performance at the Jersey Shore gives Margolies the opportunity to pair up with other local artists. He recently teamed up with Al “Big Daddy” Lamberson, a blues harp player from Bristol, and also South Jersey guitar player Chuck McCrory.

In March, Margolies performed a couple songs in an opening set at Bucks County Community College, a BCBS event which featured blues legend Rick Estrin as the headliner. Playing in the opening set with a band assembled by Mikey Junior, Mark performed the title track from “Can’t You See” and covered the Muddy Waters song “I Feel So Good.”

Margolies was thrilled to share the limelight with a legend like Estrin, who was joined on the harmonica by Mikey Junior and also Bucks County blues harp legend Steve Guyger, who once played with the late Jimmy Rogers band from 1980 until Rogers’ death in 1997.

“I didn’t play at the same time as them but it was a thrill being on that show. You can’t really get much better than those guys as far as blues is concerned.”

Margolies also played a set July 15 at Snipes Farm at the Bucks County Blues Festival. And he was one of several local guitar players to share the stage with Guyger and his Excellos band at the annual BCBS Spring Footstomper, featured every spring at Terchon VFW Post.

“This whole year in general has been really busy for me. Ever since the album came out I’ve been averaging two to three gigs a month, which is pretty good for a new band.”

Margolies has also been called upon to perform a few fill-in gigs this summer. Recently, The Twisted Tail came calling for Mark’s services when the van transporting an out-of-town artist to Old City Philadelphia broke down.

“You’re always thankful for the call but ...,” said Mark with a pause. “What can I say, if you can get the job done, you get the job done.”

“When you’re known on the local blues scene as a good player, that does happen,” explained Mark. “You can get a call to fill in for an entire band, or fill in for a guitar player.”

Thanks to “Can’t You See,” Mark Margolies is now known on the local blues scene.

@stevesherman222 on Twitter

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.