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Eddie Martin biography



Eddie Martin is an award-winning British Blues Musician, Songwriter and Arranger. A self-taughti singer-songwriter who plays the guitar, harmonica, piano and percussion, his music has covered a wide range of blues styles pushing into Rock, Jazz, and Folk as well as traditional acoustic and electric blues. He is a composer, arranger and author of new bluesii, with “originality..and intelligence in his music”iii according to the Penguin Book Of Blues Recordings. He is as likely to be found playing solo in acoustic one-man-band style as he is fronting his Eddie Martin Band or Eddie Martin Big Blues Band on electric and slide guitar. Early Life Born in Camberwell, he grew up in Londoniv and South Oxhey, Hertfordshire. He sang in school choirs and as a soloist in school performances and learned the violin at secondary school. He dropped this to teach himself the guitar aged 15, writing his first song with his first 2 chordsv. He discovered blues music while at school in Birmingham, forming his own bands and joining others from the age of 16. Despite music dominating his life from then he did reasonably well at school and went on to University gaining a degree and PhD in Social Sciences. He became committed to social and political causes from this time “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”vi.This continued till 1997 when he became a professional blues musician. Career He started playing guitar and songwriting at the age of 15 and playing harmonica from 17 realising straight away that he wanted to make music a careervii. Performing solo and in bands, the repertoire was largely his own compositions. He was first introduced to electric Blues by school band mates via Freddie King’s “Burglar” album. From an interest in Bob Dylan he discovered harmonica player Sonny Terry from Dylans’ Mentor Woody Guthrie. From the age of 17 he has continued to explore and study all styles of blues music, electric and acoustic on guitar and harmonica. His biggest influences on Electric Guitar have been the “three kings” (Freddie King, Albert King and B.B.) and T Bone Walker. Slide Guitar influences include Elmore James and Muddy Waters, and Acoustic Guitar influences include Robert Johnson and Son Houseviii. His biggest influences as a lyricist have been Bob Dylan, Willie Dixon and Mose Allisonix. He had brief forays into indie rock and even had a singer-songwriting partnership briefly with Portishead Vocalist Beth Gibbons. He formed his first Eddie Martin Blues bands in Bristol in 1992. His commercial recording career began with his debut cd solo release on his own Blueblood Records label “Solo in Soho” (1995). On the solo front his commitment has led to him being considered by the European Blues Association as the outstanding one-man blues band in the UK todayx. He has produced 3 solo albums; “Solo in Soho” which TIMEOUT placed in the top 10 Roots CD Releases of 1996, “Keep on Working” (2001) which received a 10/10 rating in Blues in Britain magazine, and “Folk and Blues” 2009 which was described as “a quiet little masterpiece” by Blues in Britainxi. Shortly after buying his first electric guitar Martin discovered Freddie King, an event which he said changed his life: “After that I had to study blues, Freddy, the other kings and all their earlier influences”xii. The Texas link continued with Martin living and touring from a Texas base in 1999 and 2000. There he met and teamed up with the Texas Blues Kings, comprised of Bassist Guthrie Kennard and drummer Jimmie 'Blue Shoes' Pendleton, veterans of the Texas Blues circuit and formerly with Smokin’ Joe Kubek. They joined him on the EU circuit and for his tour of the USA in 2000 and they recorded "Pillowcase Blues" in 2001. He has returned to tour in the USA many times and has had residencies in Beale St Memphis and in the Jook Joints of Clarksdale. UK and US musicians have featured in his bands for a string of albums “Ice Cream” (Blueblood Records 2003), “Play the Blues With Feeling”( Blueblood Records 2005) and “Contrary Mary” (Blueblood Records 2008) which gained a Top 20 place in World Blues Releases of 2008 in the Blues Matters Readers pollxiii). His National Steel Slide playing featured on the WC Handy-Award-nominated “Blues and Beyond” by the late Dick Heckstall-Smith, which featured guest appearances from Peter Green, Paul Jones and was produced by Pete Brown. Dick, a member of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers and Alexis Korners Blues Incorporated and has said "Eddie Martin is the hottest blues musician to come out of Britain since the 1960sxiv”. As a leading harmonica player he was honoured at the World Harmonica Festival in Trossingen Germany in 2006 where he co-judged the world harmonica competitions, and was singled out as a key innovator for his rack-harmonica skills. He was also approached to arrange and record one of the most popular harmonica themes of all time for the BBC Radio 4 remake of “Dixon of Dock Green”xv. Although most of his career has been fronting his own music, he has collaborated with other musicians from jazz and world music. He briefly teamed up with veteran UK Saxophonist Don Weller to front the Freedom Suite Blues Band which later became formed Bluefuse. Andy Sheppard also makes a guest appearance on “Ice Cream” (Blueblood Records 2003) and Pee Wee Ellis guests on the “Looking Forward Looking Back” (Blueblood Records 2012) album. He subsequently also recorded and played in a duo with Kora-playing Senegalese Musician Mamadou Cissoko recording a live album which has not been published. Since turning professional in 1996 - following a residency at London's Ain't Nothin' But, and the release of his debut album 'Solo in Soho' (Blueblood Records 1995) - the versatile Martin has gained recognition and acclaim in Europe. Consecutive nominations in the UK British Blues Awards for best guitarist, harmonica player, acoustic artist, album and band followed in the ensuing years. In 2011 he won Blues Artist of The Year in the South West Music Awardsxvi. He has maintained an intensive international touring and recording schedule ever since. Since 1997 he also has had a residency at the Old Duke in Bristol. All his own albums have been released on his own label Blueblood Records. Early on distribution for Matt Schofield, Ian Siegal and Mighty Sam McClain were through Blueblood Records but for the last 8 years it has just been run as a self-release labelxvii. In 2012 his Big Band album release with the Little Big Horns featured writing and arranging collaborations with special guest Pee Wee Ellis (ex James Brown, Van Morrison). This topped various Best Blues Releases of 2012 charts including reaching No 5 in the Top 50 Global Blues Cd Releases on the Airplay Direct Chartxviii. In 2014 he released his first 25 year retrospective album “Blues Took Me By The Hand” volume 1 being a look back on his electric recordings and volume 2 on his acoustic recordings. In 2015 he released “Live in Tuscany” with an Italian group Big Red Radio including a Gospel Choir, and featuring guest percussionist Alolalekan Babalola. This has been very well received by the international music press with one reviewer called it “one of the best blues albums of the decade” Roots Around The World The Penguin Book of Blues Recordings has praised his “talent, ingenuity and commitmentxix” as a modern British Blues Artist. He also teaches, holding masterclasses on both the guitar and harmonica around the worldxx. Discography As band leader or as solo albums. All released on Blueblood Records Solo in Soho (1995) guest piano John Baggot Blue to the Bone (1997) guest piano John Baggot, guest saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith Fires and Floods (1998) guest piano Paddy Milner, Live in the USA (2000) Keep on Working (2001) guest piano Paddy Milner, Pillowcase Blues (2002) with the Texas Blues Kings Ice Cream (2003) guest saxophonist Andy Sheppard Play the Blues With Feeling (2005) Contrary Mary (2008) Folk and Blues (2009) Looking Forward Looking Back (2011) guest saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis Blues Took Me By The Hand (2014) volumes 1 and 2(retrospective double album) Live in Tuscany (2015) with Big Red Radio guests: percussionist Alolalekan Babalola and the Jubilation Gospel Choir of Livorno As sideman On National Steel Guitar on Rollin and Tumblin with Paul Jones (vocal, harmonica), John Hyseman (drums) and Dick Heckstall Smith tenor sax on Dick Heckstall-Smiths Blues and Beyond (2001) Blue Storm Records On harmonica with Paddy Milner on piano on Louisiana Blues The Curious Case of Paddy Milner (2012) Blues Boulevard Records National Radio BBC Radio 2 Live sessions for the Paul Jones RnB Programme 1998 Pebble Mill Studios 2008 Maida Vale Studios BBC Radio 4 2010 Arranged and Recorded Solo Chromatic Harmonica theme Tune for “Dixon of Dock Green” Series