Andy Martin เป็นศิลปินบลูส์ชาวอังกฤษ ที่ปัจจุบันอาศัยอยู่ที่กรุงเทพมหานคร ประเทศไทย เขามีชื่อเสียงเป็นที่รู้จักจากการเคยเป็นสมาชิกในวงดนตรีบลูส์สัญชาติอังกฤษที่มีชื่อเสียงหลายวง ไม่ว่าจะเป็น Mojo Hand, Downbound Train, The Original Kingsnakes, Skip Allan Band และ Baton Rouge รวมทั้งเคยมีโอกสได้ร่วมออกทัวร์คอนเสิร์ตกับศิลปินบลูส์ที่มีชื่อเสียงมากมาย อาทิเช่น John Hammond Jr., John Lee Hooker, Isiah Ross, Champion Jack Dupree, Lazy Lester เป็นต้น นอกจจากนั้นยังมีเครดิตจากการทำงานเบื้องหลังในสตูดิโอ ทั้งการเล่นกีตาร์และร้องแบ็คอัพให้กับศิลปินอีกหลายราย
ในงาน Pai Jazz & Blues Fest 2017 Andy Martin เป็นหนึ่งในศิลปินที่จะมีสร้างสีสันและความบันเทิงให้กับผู้ที่ชื่นชอบในเสียงดนตรี กับบทเพลงในสไตล์ Folk Blues ซึ่งมาพร้อมกับเสียงร้องที่สามารถถ่ายทอดบทเพลงได้อย่างเข้าถึงอารมณ์ของดนตรีบลูส์ และฝีมือการเล่นอะคูสติกกีตาร์ที่โดดเด่นไม่แพ้กัน
Andy Martin: Global Blues Tales
Interview by Michael Limnios
English bluesman Andy Martin is a singer/guitarist who lives in Bangkok, Thailand and who for many years toured Europe’s blues festival circuit. British born Andy shared the stage with great blues musicians as the late Champion Jack Dupree, Lazy Lester, John Hammond Jr., Louisiana Red, John Lee Hooker, Dr. Isiah Ross, Martin Simpson, Roy Bookbinder, Dave van Ronk, Popa Chubby, Lurrie Bell, Sugar Ray Norcia, Mike Turk, Sammy Mitchell, Dave Kelly and many others. He played all kinds of blues: hardline Chicago blues, swing blues, big band blues, and rock blues. He was member of well-known British blues bands: Mojo Hand, Downbound Train, The Original Kingsnakes, Skip Allan Band (Pretty Things drummer), and Baton Rouge.
He’s also has a lot credits from studio and tour collaboration as backup singer with great soul artists, like Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett, but his first love has always been early acoustic blues. Andy says: “I have been playing blues with bands and on a solo basis for many years. Before going to university I took time off to travel and act as roadie, guitar tech. and assorted other jobs (some best nameless) with blues packages touring Europe. This bought me into close contact with artists such as John Lee Hooker, Champion Jack Dupree (with whom I later toured for a while), Sonny Boy Williamson II and many others.” Andy Martin is a natural talent in acoustic blues with voice full of colour, light, shade, and expression. A guitarist of great soul and energy, Martin is a pure blues storyteller, a magnetic entertainer, and a spellbinding performer with many years of experience and a vast repertoire.
What do you learn about yourself from the blues culture and what does the blues mean to you?
I think there are so many lessons to be learned from the blues, at all kinds of levels. Maybe the first thing is to learn as much as possible of the hardships and lives that gave rise to the blues in the first place…the spiritual songs, the work songs, the prison songs, the city speakeasy songs etc. At another level, the humility and natural growth of the blues…nothing manufactured but created out of necessity for some kind of escape. On a personal level, respect for others and acknowledgement of the conviction of anybody playing blues, regardless of their ability. We are all on the same road.
How do you describe Andy Martin sound and songbook? What characterize your music philosophy?
Over many years, I’ve played all kinds of blues…hardline Chicago blues, swing blues, big band blues, rock blues. Played with well-known British blues bands…Downbound Train, The Original Kingsnakes, Skip Allan Band and so on. I’ve also done a lot of studio and tour work as backup singer with great soul artists, like Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett…But my first love has always been early acoustic blues. I’ve never been a particularly good electric guitarist (my hands are too small…I couldn’t play like Stevie Ray even if I wanted to!) but I had a decent voice and a competent slide guitar technique. Over the years and I’ve developed an acoustic style that draws heavily on Piedmont and Delta style fingerpicking providing the bass lines, and an ever-present slide handling the melody lines. If you play solo you have you provide a big, complete sound and this works for me. As to material, I will play any blues song if I really like it and do it my way…from Charlie Patton to Buddy Guy. I will even play songs in my style by great modern writers…Tom Waits, John Hiatt, Dylan, Taj Mahal and so on.
Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice has given you?
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to see so many great blues artists and work with some of them. When I was about 17 I went with some friends to see one of the first Blues Festival packages that came to England…Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Joe Williams, Bukka White, Willie Dixon, Otis Spann and so on. I was completely hooked!! Later I saw Muddy in a smaller venue and had a chance to talk to him…but one of the most remarkable experiences was seeing Jimi Hendrix second gig in England…none of us could believe what we’d heard and seen.
Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
Other the years I’ve been so lucky to play with great musicians…Champion Jack Dupree, Lazy Lester, John Hammond Jr., Louisiana Red, John Lee Hooker, Dr. Isiah Ross and many more, plus the great bands of visiting soul singers. Their advice has always been about the same…be yourself, do it your way.
What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?
What do I miss about past blues? I sometimes wonder if the phenomenal technique of some modern players has got in the way of the sincerity and passion of the music we make. The artists I love today are people like Alvin Youngblood Hart, Cedric Burnside, John Hammond, Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder, Mississippi Gabe Carter, Jerome ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton, who have both the passion and the technique to make it all work.
Make an account of the case of blues in Thailand. Which is the most interesting period in local blues scene?
Blues in Thailand. This is a real interesting one. During the Vietnam War, Thailand was a rest & recreation area for the GIs on their tours of duty. Many were African-American, many played blues, many had guitars. I believe Fender also sent out Strats and Teles free of charge for the troops. After the war, these guitars were usually gifted to their Thai friends, often the fathers of the present generation of Thai players. Certainly it’s possible to find beautiful old Fenders in Thailand. One of the very few good things to come out of Nixon’s horrible war.
Second, the King of Thailand, who is now very old but adored by his people, was an excellent jazz player with alto sax and clarinet. As we all know, jazz and blues go hand in hand.
What has made you laugh lately and what touched (emotionally) you from the Thai Blues music circuits?
Obviously, the younger people playing blues in Thailand today are taking Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Bonamassa as their starting points. But many are willing to go back in time to learn and study the origins of the music. They all seem to have respect for the older forms if it is presented in a style they can relate to.
One of the most wonderful things about blues in Thailand is that just about everybody knows each other. We jump in and out of each others’ bands, jam together all the time and help each other with anything we can. There is none of the vicious competitiveness that exists elsewhere, especially in England.
What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues from United States and UK to Thailand?
One example of this is the Blues Power organization in Thailand, which organizes charity concerts for disaster struck areas, such as Nepal. The top blues players come from all over Thailand at their own cost to take part…I feel very honored to be the only foreigner taking part in these. Emotional occasions…a true blues brotherhood.
What were the reasons that made the UK in the 60s to be the center of Folk/Blues researches and experiments?
You asked about the folk blues experiments in England in the 1960s. Interesting, because at that time blues had fallen from popularity in the USA and many great US acoustic artists made the trip to Europe to play. In parallel, people like Davy Graham, Bert Jansch and John Renbourne were taking blues into new territories with their fusion experiments with Middle Eastern music. While this was happening in acoustic, the Stones and other UK blues bands were taking the electric Chicago Blues route. I kinda had a foot in both camps…interesting times.
Let’s take a trip with a time machine; where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?
Time travel…so many places. Maxwell Street, Chicago in the early 1950s to hear Robert Nighthawk, Clarksdale, Miss. to see Robert Johnson, Son House and the early Muddy, Memphis to see early BB King, the Harlem Apollo and the great soul singers. Impossible to choose.