One Thing Mark Shutts Doesn’t Fabricate? His Love of Music
by Stephen Pitalo
Shutts Fabricators has been heavily involved in the marine industry in Long Beach, California, and surrounding areas for 39 years. The conception and fabrications of many interesting projects are created in their facility in Huntington Beach, and since 2015, that opportunity has been extended to the local bluegrass community for the creation of great live music.
Shutts Fabricators founder Mark Shutts explained,
“Often, a person will have a need for a part or structure that just can’t be purchased ‘off the shelf.’ That’s why we exist, to provide our customers with the possibility of having parts custom-built to their specifications. We can computer design, fabricate,
polish, and install any number of specialty items, including bow rails, radar masts and arches, cockpit seats, drink holders, stairway handrails, anchor rollers, fuel and water tanks, engine mounting brackets, prop struts, and the list goes on and on.”
Shutts enjoys working with most metals, including stainless steel, mild steel, brass, aluminum, and titanium, and finds great satisfaction in creating a new piece, or repairing existing equipment on a yacht, building, factory, motorcycle, or sand rail. Shutts found his love of bluegrass could be something that creates a platform for local and national acts to perform. Early exposure to the genre fed his affinity for the music since his teens.
“When I was about 16 or 17, back in ’68 or ’69, I was given some 4-track tapes: The Best of Flatt and Scruggs, a Doc Watson album, Merle Haggard and Poco, comprising a heady mix of great playing. My peers here in SoCal were all listening to Black Sabbath and the Doors. I kept telling them “Listen to these guys play the guitar.” I started playing guitar at 10, in about 1962 or so and could recognize the more skillful playing. I’ve been hooked ever since!”
Shutts said that he’d been to enough live music venues to realize that a reasonable space for these shows was all that they needed, so they hosted some jams rather successfully at the Shutts Fabricators location in Huntington.
“In 2015, David Thom contacted me and asked if we’d consider a ‘house concert’ format with him, Don Rigsby, and Gene Libbea, and I thought, Heck yeah!” said Shutts.
And so began the legacy of the Shutts Fabricators stage, as did Shutts’ association with the bluegrass music scene.
“We belong to SWBA and CBA, proudly, I was fortunate to attend shows at the Golden Bear, where I saw John Hartford, Doc and Merle, and a whole bunch of others, it drew me to it,” he said. “I didn’t realize, until about 2009, that there was a huge Bluegrass Community out there, and after our first super jam, it’s been hook, line, and sinker ever since. I can’t seem to get enough of it!”
The acts that have played Shutts’ venue include Special Consensus, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, Dan Crary, Bill Evans, and Wally Barnick, NuBlu (4 times), Don Rigsby with David Thom and Gene Libbea, The Get Down boys, Monroe Crossing, The Colonel and Brother Leon, Chris Cerna and the Bluegrass Republic, Kenny Stinson and Perfect Tymin’, Sideline, Sheri Lee and Blue Heart, Burning Heart Bluegrass Band, Tim May, and Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road.
“We’ve had the Edgar Loudermilk Band featuring Jeff Autry four times,” Shutts said. “I hope I’m not leaving anyone out! One time, when Jeff Autry couldn’t make it to Edgar’s show, and Edgar said, ‘I’ll play guitar.’ I then asked who was going to play bass and he said, “you are!” I did okay and didn’t have a setlist, but we’ve picked together a bit in the past. He was more confident than I was, by a long shot!”
Shutts mentioned that he appreciates the gratitude that everyone expresses — the bands, the audiences, and everyone involved.
“We’ve had some killer jams before and after the shows,” he recalled. “Can’t wait ’til the next ones!” Shutts also said that even in these uncertain times, he longs for live music to make a comeback.
“It’s my hope that we ALL understand more about how live music is important to us, and all the tours and local live music come back with renewed enthusiasm on all sides!”