Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local News

June 19, 2014

Fast-rising Ellaville musician Luke Martin set to host EP release party today

ELLAVILLE — In a Southwest Georgia area known for producing many country music stars such as Luke Bryan, Philip Phillips and Brent Cobb, another local artist is quickly making a name for himself in the business. Ellaville native Luke Martin has done more in three short years than most artists do in a career, and he is hoping that he, too, can share the spotlight with some of the nation’s most well-known “Georgia boys.”

Martin was born and raised in Ellaville, where he still lives today. Growing up, Martin was always around people who played music, whether it was at his church or at home.

“My mom always played the piano, and she was around 13 or so when she started playing the piano,” he said. “I grew up listening to her play the piano at church and everything, and I had an older couple that was kind of like my second set of grandparents at church, and the older man played the guitar and I always watched him play. I always liked it and thought it was cool, but never really sat down and learned.”

Although he didn’t intend to pursue a career in the music industry growing up, Martin did say that it was a distant dream of his as a child.

“Since I was really little, I can remember watching Garth Brooks on TV when he played at Central Park in New York City,” Martin explained. “When I watched him do that show I said ‘I want to do that one day’ and that was something that was always in the back of my mind was wanting to be in front of that many people playing my songs.”

Like many musicians, Martin can trace his career back to one particular time when it all began.

“I had dated a girl through college and me and her had gotten pretty serious. We broke up after I graduated college, and it was one of those situations where you didn’t have anything to do and you try and reconnect with your old friends that you haven’t seen in a while,” he said.

Two of Martin’s old buddies played, and they even played with Andy Miller, who is another singer/song writer from Ellaville. They were “looking for someone to jam with,” according to Martin, and that is where it all began.

“We got out in a little shed behind my house and that’s where it started at three years ago.”

At the beginning, Martin was just a singer and song writer who did not play an instrument in the band.

“I started writing and singing,” he said. “As far as writing goes, that’s always been something that has been second-nature to me my whole life. As far as poems and rhyming and putting things together, that’s always come really natural to me. I was always really fascinated with poetry, and that goes right along with writing songs.”

About four months after he started singing Martin played his first show. Back then, Martin did not know how to play guitar, which was a problem that he knew he had to fix quickly.

“I had someone play the guitar for me back then because I couldn’t play,” he said. “I’d write songs and me and him would sit down in my shed and he would  put the music to my songs that I was writing. It got aggravating and I was like ‘man I’ve got to do something different. This is terrible,”’ he said with a laugh.

Martin then picked up his friend’s extra guitar and began to learn how to play. The week before his first show Martin bought his first guitar in Atlanta.

“I just sat down every day and just played constantly all day,” he said. “Every day as soon as I’d get off work I’d just play and play. Finally I got better at it and played my first show.”

Like many local artists, Martin “cut his teeth” at Buck’s Place in Ellaville. Toward the end of his first year, Martin tried to get a band together. Teaming up with his best friends, Martin began a band called “Old 19 South,” but Martin said it did not take long for them to figure out that they were better off being just friends rather than band members, and the group quickly resumed their non-band friendship.

Martin then met a guy in Albany and “tried the duo thing” for a while. In one of the acoustic shows the group ran into a booking agent at Big Racks in Albany. The agent liked the duo and got them a couple more shows, including the opportunity to open for Confederate Railroad.

“That was the first big deal that ever happened to me,” Martin said. “By the time the Confederate Railroad show rolled around though, me and that guy had split up and I went back to the Old 19 South Band again. We had played some private parties and a bar in Moultrie, and that show was one of the turning points in my career because about three weeks before that show me and the band were sitting around the room and deciding what our set list was going to be that night.”

As it turned out, the band had already decided what their set list was going to consist of.

“I had played them a few of my original songs, and they said we were going to play all originals. We got up on stage and it was an hour set and we played 12 songs with only two cover songs and the rest were songs I had written,” he said.

It didn’t take long for the crowd to get into Old 19 South’s style of music.

“After the second song the crowd got up and were standing up by the stage and they went with everything we played. That made me realize that ‘hey, maybe you do have decent stuff and you should start using it.’ That pushed me to really perfect my art as a writer and a performer. Since that night it really made me want to write that much more.”  

Following the Confederate Railroad show, Martin saw several band members come and go, and he also saw a long period of time where he had trouble booking gigs.

“About a year ago I had a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with myself so to speak. The Old 19 South Band had kind of dissipated and we were back to just the Luke Martin Band. We had been trying to get gigs and trying to get gigs and nobody wanted to pay us any attention,” he said.

“I was playing a lot of acoustic shows locally and it just wasn’t getting anywhere and I was getting down on myself and getting a lot of negativity rolling around in my head,” he explained. “I sat down and I say ‘you know what, I’m either going to do it or I’m not going to do it.”

It wasn’t long after Martin decided to completely buy-in that his biggest opportunity to date came.

“I had the opportunity to open up for The LACS out at The Farm in Smithville on their grand opening weekend. I got the opportunity through Team Deeep, a four-wheeler club out of Vienna that I’m still a part of. That was a lot of fun and I actually didn’t even meet The LACS that night, but at the end of that weekend I sat down and wrote a song called ‘Goin’ Deep’ and sent it to the guy at Team Deeep ATV Club and he liked and said ‘man that’s cool.’”

What happened next was one of the biggest moment’s of Martin’s young music career.

“He sent me a screenshot of a message between Clay Sharpe and him, and Clay is one of the singers with The LACS,” Martin explained. “Clay loved the song and said ‘we want to do something with that.’ That really shocked me and I didn’t believe at first because The LACS are an extremely popular group.”

The LACS consist of Sharpe, a hip hop artist, and lead vocalist/guitarist Brian  King. The LACS have recorded three albums, and their music video “Kickin’ Up Mud” has over 12 million views on YouTube.

“We talked about it and I started doing more and more with Team Deeep, and we got a chance to play at Lactoberfest in Savannah last year and got to hang out with The LACS again. There were more and more and more shows, and eventually I actually got a chance to sit down and talk with Clay more about that particular song. He said ‘man we are going to do it. It may take me a while to finally get to that point but we are going to do it.’”

After about a year, Martin finally got the call from Sharpe that he had been waiting on.

“He called me and said, ‘hey man we want you to come down to our studio in Baxley and record this song,’” Martin said. “I went down there and recorded the song called ‘Goin’ Deep’ and I had an actual verse in it. I actually wrote the whole song and they went back and took the first part that I wrote and put their two rap verses in it because they are a country rap type of group.”

Sharpe then delivered even more good news by telling Martin that he was going to try and get the track on Mud Digger Vol. 5, which is their record label’s compilation CD that famous country rap artist Colt Ford started in 2010. The albums feature new and upcoming artists that aren’t quite out there yet, and it was released on May 20, giving Martin his first big cut.

“That was an awesome feeling,” said Martin. “That was really cool working with those guys and it was really a big turning point for us. That really increased our popularity to a whole different level and put us on the map so to speak.”

Martin did not slow down there, however, and he recently released his first EP with five full band songs and one acoustic song. The EP titled “100 Proof” released online on Monday, and will be available in certain stores today.

“We’ve done a lot of big things in a short period of time,” Martin said. “I’ve put a lot of work in it and there have been a lot of people that have taught me a lot and helped me get through a lot through the years.”

Martin, who said he would classify his style of music and a county/southern rock style is still the lead singer of the four-member Luke Martin Band. Other members include long-time best friend and bass player Guy Wiggins, drummer Billy Terry, and guitarists Devin Steen and Mike Christopher. Martin is the youngest of the group at 24-year-olds.

The album Mud Digger Vol. 5 is available at most stores that carry music CDs including Walmart, Best Buy and Target. Martin’s EP, “100 Proof” is available on iTunes and will hit certain stores’ shelves today. Martin will also be hosting a CD release part for “100 Proof” at the Cypress Bar & Grill on Lake Blackshear, and Caroline Cripe will open the show for him at 9 p.m.

Martin said that he would never have made it this far without the support of many family members, friends and fellow musicians.

“I want to thank my mom and dad, Paula and Kevin Martin. They have always supported me from the get-go, and momma’s not always liked it with me staying out late and her not knowing where I was but she has always supported me. My dad is not a big crowd person but he is always at shows, maybe standing back in the corner somewhere, but he’s there.”

“I’ve also got to thank Team Deeep, mainly Johnny and Mandy Guined and all the members, and all of my close friends and band members. I also need to thank Brian and Clay of the LACS for giving me the opportunity to be where I’m out right now.”

With so much success so quickly, it would be easy for a singer to take it easy and slow down some, but Martin says that won’t be the case for himself.

“I plan to keep plugging away and getting one step closer,” he said. “I want to get better as an artist, a writer and a musician. I never planned to be where I’m at now three years ago. My ultimate goal is to just keep playing shows and performing and see what happens.”

 

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