Farewell, Colonel

Longtime local musician Mark Chenault passed away Saturday afternoon around 2 p.m. at the Scarlet Oaks hospice facilities in Clifton. He was 53. The funeral is to be held today (Monday) at the Mosque of Cincinnati at 3668 Clifton Ave. at 2 p.m. Friends are welcome to attend (please, no flowers).

Chenault was involved as a performer in the local music scene since the late ’70s/early ’80s. He performed with The Dents, a group that featured future members of Blanco Nombre and the Babettes and played originals and covers from the then-just-blossoming Punk movement (Clash, Ramones, etc.). Among other projects, he also played percussion and sang with The Nervous Pioneers in the ’80s.

His last big role was as percussionist/hype man for the extremely popular, Bootsy Collins-produced Funk crew SHAG, which reunited two years ago to play a benefit show to help with Mark’s medical bills after he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an aggressive form of bone cancer, and had to undergo chemo treatment. Besides being one of the most successful local bands of the time, SHAG toured extensively in the ’90s. (CityBeat put the band on its cover in the mid-’90s after the group played an explosive set at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.)

Robert Beatty played with the man of a million nicknames (he was known as The Colonel and The Mayor of Clifton, among other monikers) in The Nervous Pioneers and has remained in touch with Chenault (Beatty visited Mark a few times last week and worked to try and let his other friends know of his condition). Beatty remembers Chenault as a true “character.”

“He was somewhat gregarious (humorous understatement), full of energy,” Beatty wrote in an e-mail, later adding, “(In the) late ’80s and later most of us were slowing down while Mark continued ripping and running, so there’s a whole crew of younger folks that know him that we don’t even know about.”

I didn’t personally know Mark, but, like anyone else who went out to clubs in the ’90s, I couldn’t help but know of him. Mark had the kind of charismatic aura where you could almost feel him when he came into a room, always dressed dapper and ready for action. No post-mortem hyperbole here — Mark Chenault was truly a one-of-a-kind-type of person and performer. Godspeed, Colonel.

(photo: myspace.com/shag2005)

— Mike Breen

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