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The Chris Martin Trio is Young and restless 

Releasing its latest, Young Blood, The Chris Martin Trio reinvents the old-school style

click to enlarge The Chris Martin Trio gets heated. - CHERAKEE STODDARD
  • The Chris Martin Trio gets heated.
  • Cherakee Stoddard

How does an artist work for a decade creating a sound and a reputation that wins over audiences, and still find a way to grow and experiment? For Chris Martin, the secret seems to be juggling about a million different projects and never being afraid to try something new. "I've been playing music on the east coast for the better part of 10 years," Martin explains over coffee, "and I think it's important to be as diverse as possible, so I can take on all the different opportunities that come my way." From mainstage gigs with the six-piece Trouble Shooters to house concerts as a solo artist, Martin has been able to tailor his signature old-school style for a variety of audiences. This week, the release of Young Blood, his latest album with the Chris Martin Trio, he hopes to give audiences yet another unique take on his favourite genre.

Young Blood, released on Martin's own Let's Riot! Music label, is the culmination of two years of playing and touring with the trio, which includes Stu Hayward on the stand-up bass and Dru Donovan on drums, and showcases the raw, stripped-down sound Martin has been developing through his work with the Rockabilly Riot.

Working on the monthly rockabilly review founded by his partner, Tiffany Spencer, has allowed Martin to play with numerous local and national acts while honing a style that riffs on icons like Eddie Cochran and Hank Williams. The album was recorded in several sessions, creating a natural progression that Martin sees mirrored in the band's development. More than just a showcase for a new sound, Young Blood "kind of tells the story of how the trio developed." Engineered by Donovan in his Bottle Records studio, Martin hopes that Young Blood will surprise fans with a leaner, more raw and traditional sound than they've heard from him before.

"We wanted to make sure that it was the kind of recording that really grabbed your ear," he says with a grin. "Not the kind of thing you just play in the background." Moving away from the Trouble Shooters' more robust sound, and trading in the keys and saxophone for a guitar and bass, allowed Martin to play around with his own twists on the rockabilly fundamentals he's spent the last few years falling in love with. "I really tried to get the extreme guitar tones in particular, with really old guitars and amplifiers. You know, the old trick of turning it up to 10 and make it screech?" says Martin, laughing. "We turned up the echo a lot, to try to get that rockabilly feel."

A partnership with Scandinavian label Playground Records will see Young Blood distributed throughout Europe and help connect Martin and his music to a wider community. Martin stresses he "thinks it's important as an artist to grow in other directions" and that reaching out to international audiences is about "trying to make connections in different places, as well as tapping into the community feel." Fans can expect to get that rockabilly feel live and in person when Martin debuts Young Blood with a solo performance at Taz Records on April 26, before releasing it worldwide on April 29. He'll help celebrate Rockabilly Riot's fourth anniversary in May (along with Let's Riot! labelmate Greg Arcade) before heading to Montreal and touring Young Blood through Ontario in June.

Chris Martin Trio
Saturday, April 26 at 2pm, Free
Taz Records, 1521 Grafton Street


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