Another Concert Series convergence of Road Rambler, Arrivals, and 51GR8, Marty Wendell brings accomplishment, new work, and local heritage as he makes his Depot return.
From his website, martywendell.com
Musically weaned on an old Philco radio, singer-songwriter Marty Wendell grew up whetting an appetite for rockabilly, folk, country and pop to blues and gospel. With Marty Wendell you get the real deal.
Influenced by Sun Records artists, Marty entered a church talent show where he sang in front of a live audience for the first time. Almost half a century later, Marty Wendell continues to enjoy performing for enthusiastic audiences. He has shared the stage with some of the greatest artists in early rock and country music to R&B and folk including T. Graham Brown, Carl Perkins, John Anderson, The Hager Twins, Maskman and the Agents’ Harmon Bethea, Arlo Gutherie, The Platters and Shirley Alston Reeves to name a few … And Johnny Cash.
Marty met Cash in the early 1960’s by way of an introduction by agent Jerry Teifer. In a backstage dressing room in Newburgh (NY), Mr. Cash pulled a Gibson 12-string guitar out of the case and handed it to Marty, saying, “Why don’t you play me one of your songs?” Marty recalls, “I had never played a 12-string before, and I can’t even remember what song I tried to play for him … I was nervous as I could be. I mean, here I was with this guy that I’d been listening to since I was about 10 years old! But he was so gracious. He sat and listened and then he played me a bunch of songs that he hadn’t released yet.” Four years later, on the strength of Wendell’s song “Hey Hey Mama”–his first record and one that exceeded 10,000 in sales–Marty was booked as an opening act for Johnny Cash and his troupe (including The Carter Family, Carl Perkins, and The Statler Brothers) on the tour that followed the release of Cash’s Folsom Prison album which catapulted Cash into superstardom.
Following the Folsom Prison tour engagements, Marty began recording for Kee Records and released his second single, “An Ode to Burtis Dean,” garnering national attention and third single, “Bring The Circus Back To Town, which received international exposure through the Armed Services Radio. Marty’s last single for Kee Records was Carl Perkins’ “Daddy Sang Bass.”
Marty’s performing career continued to gain momentum into the 70’s with extensive radio appearances and as a featured guest on TV Teen Dance shows while maintaining a grueling schedule touring throughout the northeastern states. In 1977 he began hosting an annual Country Music Festival in the historic Round Lake Auditorium in the picturesque Saratoga County village. Over the next 20 years, Marty curated a line up that featured upstate region’s leading country musicians including the late Chuck Wilson, Al & Kathy Bain, Aged In the Hills, and Mirinda James to notable Nashville hitmakers such as Statler Brother Lew DeWitt, writer of the million selling “Flowers On The Wall,” long-time friend Jerry Fox’s Bandana, and Oak Ridge Boy William Lee Golden. While he nurtured the Round Lake Country Music Festival, Marty continued to perform, frequently tapped to share the stage and stretch his chops with great country artists from John Anderson, Lacy J. Dalton, The Hager Twins, T. Graham Brown to folk icon Arlo Guthrie.
Much of Marty’s recording activity has focused on original material. After completing two albums with Kee Records, he recorded four albums with Hickory Hill Records. By the 90’s, he was recording with Orrensong Recordings, a relationship that fostered the freedom to experiment with new music. With Orrensong, Marty recorded four albums including Over The Edge. Making the journey to the Memphis recording mecca of Sun Studios, the Over The Edge project allowed him to become one of a select group of artists to record at the American historic landmark. Marty was also delighted that Planet Swan, daughter of renowned Billy Swan, joined him to record the rockabilly stroll “Bad Attitude” in this session. Although Over the Edge brought Marty back to his rockabilly roots, this album also demonstrates his versatility of style as it packages “elements of gospel, blues, rock, pop, rockabilly, folk and more as synthesizers rub up against cello and classical guitar underneath the spiritual, uplifting lyrics.” (Greg Haymes, Times Union)
Since 1998, Marty has had the pleasure of collaborating with his son Sean–a musician in his own right–as co-writer and producer. Although he began as Marty’s roadie at age 12, Sean and Marty first performed together when Marty opened for Arlo Guthrie in 1993 at the Berkshire Performing Arts Center. Their first recording project was Labor of Love, Marty’s first album with Orrensong Recordings. Several albums later, Orrensong released It’s Just Me, a solo project featuring Marty with his own material and his guitar, celebrating a milestone of 40 years as a singer, songwriter, and recording artist.
Marty has been recording with Boston-based label Simply 21 Records since 2007 with the release of Rockabilly Heart, which includes “57 Chevy,” a people’s favorite on iTunes. In 2010, he released Live and Rockin,’ a live recording of Marty’s opening performance for The Platters.
While his past accomplishments are significant, there are no signs of retirement on the horizon. Marty continues to record with an enthusiasm that challenges younger artists. His current recording project with Simply 21, The Good Old Days features pre-rock and roll standards that are some of Marty’s earliest influences including “Cry,” “Twilight Time,” “My Blue Heaven,” “Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy,” and two of Marty’s new songs.
Performing live and engaging with an audience, however, is Marty’s passion. His shows are engaging and just plain fun for audiences of all ages … and Marty hopes you’ll join him for one. Marty Wendell’s performance schedule and collection of photos are available by visiting MartyWendell.com. One can listen to or purchase his music through his Website or via online merchants such as iTunes, CDBaby, or Amazon.com