Marty Wendell Shows No Signs of Slowing Down; New Album, “View From The Rumble Seat” to Be Recorded


CAMBRIDGE – Local singer-songwriter Marty Wendell is preparing to go back into the studio to record his next album, View From The Rumble Seat. And, as those familiar with the artist are aware, he is again changing things up genre-wise; he doesn’t like to be pigeonholed! Now in his 59th year within the music industry, Wendell is doing anything but slowing down, having just won the Listen Up Music Award for “Favorite Americana Artist.”

I had a chance to sit down with Wendell earlier this week. What follows is our conversation.

Lucas Garrett: Hello, Marty! It’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to sit down and talk. How have you been? Are there any highlights from the past year that you’re most proud of?

Marty Wendell: Yes, Lucas, good to get a chance to talk to you again.  Things are going very well for me.  A lot has happened in the past year.  Our Risky Business album became the second album to be a contender for “Best Americana Album” in the Grammy Awards.  “Like A Ghost,” a track from the album that I know you liked, came in at #13 in the top 97 songs of 2022 in WEXT’s all genre survey.  I also was a nominee for “Country/Bluegrass Artist of the Year” in the Eddies Awards for a third year.  And then I was very surprised by winning “Favorite Americana Artist” at the Listen Up Music Awards that are based on fan voting.  So, there are a lot of things I am very thankful for.

LG: I remember the last time we spoke; you were a bit under-the-weather. But it seems you’re back at it again! I’m happy to see that! What’s on the horizon for you?

MW: Yes, in 2022 we had to overcome some health challenges.  Unfortunately, it forced me to cancel a lot of long-distance bookings, but we were able to do the concerts scheduled here in the Capital District for the most part.  I am happy to say we will be back on the road for the 2023 season.  It is always rewarding to have the opportunity to share our music with live audiences.  During the pandemic we did some streaming shows, but there just is something missing without the audience.

LG: I hear you have a new album in the works? Tell us a bit about that.

MW: We are hoping to get back in the studio soon and record another album of original rockabilly songs.  I don’t consider rockabilly a dead genre and find it a challenge to produce new material that people can enjoy.  The album will be called View From The Rumble Seat.  Like rumble seats, there are many things that people no longer remember.  So, I have tried to write songs from the perspective of looking out from some good memories.  Rather than just being nostalgia, I want the songs to tell a living story as our past always shapes our present.  And our present of course leads us on to the future.  It is all connected.

LG: How is this album going to differ from the previous, Risky Business? Do you have the same production team on this record?

MW: Risky Business is a Country/Americana album a lot of which was produced in Nashville.  It was a collaborative effort with producer, Chris Scruggs, and several guest artists.  The next album will include my Tour Band as we did for the Rock & Roll Days album.  My son, Sean Wendell, will produce the album.  We always strive to make each album different.  Many of my albums are available on the internet and include not only Country and Rockabilly, but I have an album of pre-Rock & Roll standards as well as some Alternative experimental albums, a Solo Acoustic album recorded at Caffe Lena, a Live Concert album and a Gospel album.

LG: What were some of the influences, specific if any, that went into the genesis of the new record? 

MW: I think every artist I have ever listened to has influenced me in some way.  Obviously, my strongest influences were the artists that came out of Sun Records including Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis.  In 2002 I did a session at Sun Studio in Memphis and it was definitely a highlight of my years in music.  I still believe there is a place for simplicity in producing music.  When you listen to the old Sun recordings and realize how limited the recording equipment was, it is amazing that there is still great sonic quality.  We will work hard to make the new album this kind of project. 

LG: Now that the pandemic seems to be on the down-swing, as a veteran of the business for many decades, how do you feel the industry is, on the other side, compared to how it used to be?

MW: The music business changed a lot even prior to the pandemic.  When I started out radio was king.  Getting airplay for your record is what opened doors. My first single did well in that regard and as a result I got to be an opening act with the Johnny Cash Show in 1968 when he was promoting “Live At Folsom Prison.”  Back then when you showed up at a radio station with a record, they not only played it but sat you down for a live interview.  Try showing up at most radio stations with a new record today and they will call security to usher you out.  Now most radio stations decide what you are going to get to listen to.  Another major change I have observed is that you don’t see record labels trying to develop legendary artists.  So many artists have been given their ten minutes of fame and then their label moves on to somebody else. And once the first gray hairs are visible then the artists are dropped from the label.

LG: Is there anything else you’d like to discuss while I have you here?

MW: This will be my 59th year in music and I am hoping to make 60.  People have told me that Rock & Roll is a young man’s game.  All I can say is that when I am on stage, I am 20 once again, and I guess that is what the addiction is.  Again, I am very thankful for all that is going on with my music during a time that I had expected we would be winding down.  I am fortunate to have a great band and crew who encourage me, as does my family.  I appreciate every person that comes out to the shows or buys the recordings.  They make it all worthwhile.  I remember times that there was very little live music out there, and it is exciting to see so many people making music in our corner of the world.  It is always a pleasure to talk with you and I wish you continued success with your music.        

LG: Thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing your new material!

Marty Wendell will be performing at The Park Theater in Glens Falls tomorrow night (May 25th) at 7:00 PM as part of their Live & Local Songwriters’ Showcase series. Also performing are Josh Morris, Sydney Worthley and Kyla Silk.

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