© Copyright 2012 Eddie Martin. All Rights
Reserved. (Used with Permission)
"Whether he is playing as a one-man band, in a
trio or big band, Eddie Martin excels..."
- Blues in Britain
"One of the UK's most dynamic performers, he is
a live act not to be missed"
- Blues Review USA
where were you born and where did you grow up?
Eddie: Born in
London, grew up in Watford.
Alan: What are
your first musical memories?
Apart from singing at school,
which I did a lot of because my primary school teacher was a musician,
it was my Mum’s Burl Ives Folk records.
Alan: Did you
come from a musical family - is there a long musical heritage?
Eddie: Mum and Dad
could hold a tune, that’s all, but their relatives included many amateur
and some professional musicians.
Alan: Did you
always want to become a musician?
Since 16, but as a young adult I was as
much motivated by social and political change and had a simultaneous
career in politics for a while alongside my music.
Alan: How did
you get started in music?
I Got my first guitar aged 15
and then got into British Rock and the Folk revival before getting
seriously into the blues. I always was writing my own stuff solo and in
a band. I did my first gig aged 16 with 2 chords and some of my Mum’s
poetry for lyrics.
kind of material were you playing in the early days and who were your
Always my own stuff but initially hard
rock-influenced with my band and folk/singer-songwriter on my own from
the age of 15. I got seriously into the blues from 16/17.
first attracted you to the blues and what does the blues mean to you?
It was concept rock all around at the
time with my school friends listening to Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant.
When I first heard Freddy King’s Burglar it knocked my socks off.. the
guitar-playing was forceful, direct, exciting, sexy and beautiful, and
danceable. And that is the appeal that I have ever since found in blues.
Alan: Who has
influenced you the most in your music writing and playing?
With harp the list starts with
Little Walter, Sonny Terry, Walter Horton, The Sonny Boys, Kim Wilson,
Rod Piazza, William Clarke, Mitch Kashmar, Joe Filisko, with acoustic
guitar: Charlie Patton, Son House, Barbecue Bob, Robert Johnson,
Lighting Hopkins, Fred McDowell, RL Burnside, Blind Blake, Furry Lewis,
with electric guitar: T Bone Walker, Freddy, Albert and BB King, Elmore
James, Johnny Guitar Watson, Ronnie Earl, Luther Tucker, Michael
“Hollywood Fats” Mann, Otis Rush, Louis Myers, Muddy Waters, Hubert
Sumlin, Johnny Winter, lyrically: Bob Dylan, Mose Allison, Willie Dixon,
Johnny Guitar Watson and the older theatrical songwriters Rogers and
Hammerstein, Dorothy Fields Cole Porter.
there any particular songs that you play that have special meaning to
On my current album “Looking
Forward Looking Back” the title track is a pretty deep summing up of
where I am in my life. Other songs stand out because they are for my son
Xavier aged 6 who is of course very special in my life. He loves a good
story and I wrote “Kind Lady Moon” for him off my last "Folk and Blues"
album. And “Frog in the Long Grass” off my new album which is also the
single coming out on April 18th ( download) is about he and I
finding the frog in the back garden.
performed with many great bluesmen including John Mayall, Buddy Guy,
Eric Bibb, Taj Mahal and David Honeyboy Edwards; you must have some fond
The memories and the
experiences are the treasure that you can’t put a price on looking back
over this hard musicians life. Of course meeting with and playing with
Honeyboy is very special given that he is now gone and he was one of the
last living links to the founders. Pee Wee Ellis is another great
musician who has a life of rich musical links to what you could call
“cornerstone” music in that it is central to the roots /Afro-American
heritage that is in turn the foundation of western popular music. He and
I collaborated on my current album and got to play live and record and
write together which was very inspiring ... and just fun coz he has some
great stories. My old Texan rhythm section and me had some great
experiences on the road in the US and Europe and these are high up in
the “treasured” list.
me about your one-man-band shows, what instruments do you play and who
inspired you to be a one man band?
I have always been a bit
restless at just solo acoustic guitar shows and need a bit of percussion
going on. So I am always experimenting with percussion to get more
sounds and effects in my solo performances of songs. Mainly I play
National Steel and my Kay electric for slide but also diddley-bow. All
my guitars get used some time or another though. My feet work bass drum
suitcase and regular bass drum, snare hi-hat/tambourine and I use
shakers and occasional cymbals. I’ve studied all the greats of course
Duster Bennett, Dr Ross and Son Of Dave to name a contemporary great,
but end up doing my own thing really. The rack harmonica thing is what
a lot of people say is my hallmark and I suppose I do more with it than
anyone else I know but for me it is always about the song and adding to
it anyway you can musically or rhythmically ... I don’t want my one man
band stuff to be seen as a gimmick or side-show ... it’s still about
adding to the performance of a song.
Alan: When you
toured the US I believe you had residencies in Beale Street, Memphis and
in the Juke Joints of Clarksdale. How were the experiences?
Eddie: Beale St and
Clarksdale are almost sacred places in the history of the Blues even if
Memphis seems to have more in the way of gaming halls and shopping malls
as main leisure pursuits these days.
The US, and Beale St and
Clarksdale is particular, is the ancestral home. So, even if at the
time, it was just another gig on the road, looking back it is great to
say that I had residencies at the Silver Dollar on Beale, which has a
lot of musical history and was just down from BB’s on Beale, and played
Clarksdale Jook joints which are still alive-and-kicking like in the
earliest blues times. So that was great to play one for a while. In
Memphis it was great also to meet Richard Johnson and jam and see some
of the other new generation of one man bands.
Alan: Tell me
about the harmonica workshops you run for Euroblues at the Acoustic
Blues Weekend; how big are the workshops, how are they structured, when
and where do they run, and who can attend?
I get students
playing as much as possible, keeping my talk down to a minimum and
getting those skills developing. I have written guides to refer to, of
the classic skills, techniques, licks and sounds of the masters and we
work through them. Numbers depend ... I have had as little as 3 and
also have held workshops with 600 people in them. See
website for workshops coming up.
are touring in 2012 with your Big Band and special guest Pee Wee Ellis
and your Big Sound Trio, tell me a little about the bands.
The mainstay of my line-ups is
my relationship with John Paul Gard keyboard and bass pedal maestro who
I have been playing with for over a year now. He is a fantastic musician
and enables a sound I have been looking for for ages. With Danny Cox a
great and very professional young drummer my trio has a bigger sound and
is more exciting than it has ever been. John-Paul is with me in the Big
Band also with Richie Laws on drums. The little Big Horns are old
friends, we have been playing together since 1994. They get better and
better and play with a great dynamic and charismatic group sound. Patsy
is ales a fine soloist and was nominated rightly in the blues awards
last year. Pee Wee Ellis also played on the new album of course and was
Alan: Tell me
about the making of your new album 'Looking Forward Looking Back'; who
appears on the album and are all the tracks your own compositions?
“Looking Forward Looking Back”
has been the first time I have written rehearsed and recorded an album
in a chunk of continuous time ... in this case a fan kindly sponsored
some of the project so we did it all start-to-finish in about 6 months.
The album goes back to the Electric Blues Guitar Pioneers for its
I studied the old masters, and
with 14 new songs, arrangements and a great band sought to resurrect the
spirit and humour and excitement of pioneer recordings of the Big Band
the humour and stinging guitar of Johnny Guitar Watson, the guitar
innovation and suave sophistication of Big Band T Bone Walker during the
Imperial Recordings and the spontaneity and blistering slide of Elmore
James. And I love the fantastic horn arrangements of all three ...
Moving my studio into a Bristol dance hall, the band played live-to-tape
on vintage and state-of-the-art gear, and I’m really pleased at how we
managed that way to evoke the “space” and energy of those inspirational
recordings. My long-standing big band (together with me since 1993) is
augmented here by Pee Wee Ellis who collaborated to write (as only he
can!) the classic Funk Horn arrangement on track 11 “Funky One Too”.
There are humorous lyrics about
current events and themes and hopefully not a single re-run of any tired
blues-rock licks. I am really pleased with how the recording came out.
Playing the material live is going down great too, even though touring
with a big band in this economic climate is not easy.
Alan: How do
you see the future of live blues music?
I am yearning for blues fans to
love going further back than blues-rock guitar hero stuff which
predominates these days but am heartened by the fact that fine young
musicians are still being honed in this country, with its great passion
for music. They are coming through with as much talent and energy as
ever. The scene is being hit by recession - less money for going out and
buying CDs - all over. But we will overcome because live music touches
so many people still as a unique life-affirming experience I hope.
Alan: Eddie, thank you for your time.
Click here for details of Eddie's new CD "Looking
Forward Looking Back"
Release Date: 18th June 2012
A track off the CD "Frog In The Long Grass" will be released as a
Download Single on 18th April
(iTunes, Amazon, etc)
Eddie Martin, Acoustic Stage, Colne ©
Copyright 2007 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.
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