Music

Music

I started out as a self-taught guitar playin’ punk rocker in Olympia, WA and played in a couple of bands in San Francisco. Then, I started writing and playing music for videos and soundworks, sometimes with David Jones as Kelly & David. In 2003, I got introduced to old time American fiddle and banjo music and I’ve been ambling on this road ever since.

Echo Mountain

From L to R: Ben Kramer, Jonathan Shifflette, Me, Kyle McNally, and Peter Linden

I’ve been playing bass with old time quintet Echo Mountain since 2017. The band features Kyle McNally and Jonathan Shifflett on twin fiddles, Peter Linden on banjo, and Ben Kramer on guitar and mandolin. We all sing. We’ve performed at Watkins Family Hour, Grass Valley Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival, the Los Angeles Old Time Social, Berkeley Old Time Music Convention, the Portland Old Time Music Gathering, and Parkfield. Our collective vision is a repertoire reflecting the full spectrum of the old-time tradition, tackling complex fiddle tunes, and rich harmony singing while remaining true to traditional style and form. We have albums available on bandcamp.

Skillet Licorice

From L to R: Katy Harris, Clinton Davis, Me, Elise Engelberg, and Matt Knoth

I play bass from time to time with Skillet Licorice, the latest project from San Francisco Bay Area roots-music luminaries Elise Engelberg and Matt Knoth. Essentially a musical consortium, Matt & Elise are the core of an All-Star lineup featuring many of California’s hottest old-time musicians. The result is a full fledged proto-swing orchestra capable of expert musicianship in a dizzying array of folk genres. Whether they’re playing hot fiddle breakdowns, slinky blues, sparkling banjo breaks, ragtime or dreamy waltzes Skillet Licorice displays an impressive command of styles and techniques that comes from deep study and loving dedication to America’s folk traditions. With the help of their talented friends they’ve put together an incredible repertoire that is essentially traditional, yet with a modern approach that is anything but stale. Skillet Licorice is hot, sweet, and just a bit greasy! I play on a couple of tracks for their newest release, Allsorts Orchestra which is now available for pre-order on Tiki Parlour Recordings.

Solo Album – The Last Kind Word

Solo Album – The Last Kind Word, released in 2017 on Questionable Records.

Produced by myself and Ben Townsend of Questionable Records in Louisville, Kentucky. Ben Townsend is an incredible multi-instrumentalist and engineer from West Virginia. In addition to recording and mixing The Last Kind Word, he also played banjo, fiddle, electric guitar and bass. The album was mastered by Carl Saff Mastering.This is my first solo album.

As a friend said, “It’s a breakup record.” I used to write songs with that friend (Kelly and David as the Twilight Auguries). I also make sound pieces and sound designs for video works. When I got turned on to old time music – the deep and winding stream of American fiddle and banjo tunes and songs, my whole life changed. It happened to happen as I was falling in love. I married the guy and we had a band, old time trio Triple Chicken Foot, for over ten years. We did a lot of cool stuff, travelled, met some wonderful people and helped to grow a community of players and dancers in Los Angeles. Then it all fell apart. This is all splitting seams, threads laid bare to be expected. The dark rip ruptured. A marriage broken. No details here. Not necessary, its results this album.

A few of the songs were written in the inspirational cloud of learning to play old time music, a few while mired in the heartbreak (hail to dark chocolate, wine and weed!) And a few while at the Turkey Land Cove Foundation residency in Martha’s Vineyard in October of 2016. The sound interludes are a favored mode of working — aural poetics. Ambient sounds captured while rambling round this world or by chance, such as hearing my uncle’s voice on an old film interviewing the McGee brothers in 1975 or asking the poet who had written a poem about the word “failure” to speak it for her. Add a little synth, some feedback guitar, these sound pieces work to weave the whole thing into one. Enjoy and hum. Thrive and strum.

Kelly & David – As the Twilight Auguries

Full-length album of original songs in collaboration with David Jones.

Here is a review.

Listen to the album here.

Four Skulls – Fireweed

A music video created by Dara Dworman, drummer in Four Skulls aka Hightower Wrecks aka Feather Early. This was a rock trio of Kelly Marie Martin, David Jones and Dara from 1996 – early 2000s.