Martin Mcgroarty

Martin Mcgroarty

Guitarist, Composer, Arranger,Producer

The sounds of Aretha Franklin in her gritty soul mode, Think, Chain of Fools, the heart rending melodies of Brian Wilson, In My Room, Don’t Worry Baby and the blitz attack of Cream grabbed the heart and soul of this fellow in his early adolescence and entranced him into the limitless joys of music in all its manifestations. The constant weekly output of the 60’s meant music was a daily topic of peer chat and argument but that wasn’t enough, it had to be an active engagement.

So the journey started with £30 to buy an old Ludwig drum kit of an old lush from the “Barracks” area of town. It certainly made an impression on the neighbours but it got him into school based groups like Creative Mind playing the oddest mixture of music from The Doors to The Hollies. The charismatic frontman was a goth (slept with an open coffin over his bed) decades before they they became part of youth culture. He prematurely entered another coffin via a drug overdose, an early casualty.

Drumming was looking like the route to go but world events interfered when having left his kit in a local pub while he buggered off to London to taste real freedom, he returned home to find pub and kit had become victims of the “Troubles”.

Ok so a more transportable instrument was required and that had to be a guitar. Focusing on “wooden music”, all the Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young singalongs were learnt and played accompanied by the dope that gets you through times of no money better than money gets you through times of no dope nights, which were many. That was all very well and good but things got a wee bit more exotic when he having now left school hit the open road and found himself in Aix en Provence busking and meeting international musicians, troubadours of the very same open road and the learning curve shot up to embrace John Lee Hooker, JB Lenoir, Bert Jansch and many more. This period included taking in a trip to fascist Spain, with the coal scuttle helmeted military/police and purchase of a quality bespoke Spanish guitar.

The learning curve bottomed for a while, actually far too long, on return to Blighty with the loss of said guitar while living amongst the barbiturate fueled junkie world of early 70’s London bedsit land.

It took a period travelling in the US a number of years later to reignite the musical flame and on return armed with a quality axe, he started playing in various bands, some best forgotten (Lukewarm & The Receptions for one, internal scream there)  others a little more exotic such as the Suns of Arqa – .

In the process of forming a “Western Swing “ band ( Asleep At The Wheel for eg) he met up with Helen Watson – -, singer, and started such a band which then, sensibly, went on to do original soul/r’n’b/country flavoured songs. They, The Well Knit Frames (some of them were of that stature) were a star band in the Greater Manchester area with regular appearances at the legendary Band on The Wall. 

Co writing with Helen led to what seemed like the perfect poker hand, a publishing contract, management contract and then ace of spades a massive 2 album recording deal with EMI (the uber label of the day) recording at A&M studios Los Angeles – Herb Alpert, who owned A&M, didn’t fritter his money in the stereotypical West Coast manner – and getting Glyn Johns in as producer, who had produced, mixed, engineered such as The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, Joan Armatrading and The Eagles. Add to that some fantastic musicians of the day – definitely one for the vinyl oldies here – such as Bill Payne and Richie Hayward from Little Feat, Steve Lukather from Toto, Michael Landau from Join Mitchell Band and Mr Wide Eyed and Legless himself, Andy Fair-weather Low. The albums were called “Blue Slipper and “The Weather Inside” – Weather Inside

This 2 album extravaganza flattered to deceive as they say in the horse racing world and sales though good in Europe were not what was hoped for in UK. A transfer was in order so we went from Manchester City to mid table Wolves and another album was recorded with RCA produced by a lovely man called Bob Andrews, off Brinsley Schwarz and The Rumour and later producer of the La’s great hit “There She Goes”. http://www.neworleanspiano.comThis album was called “Companion Gal”.

 You make your own luck in this business but sometimes you can be shortchanged and 2 weeks after the release of Companion Gal, RCA were bought out by BMG who immediately dropped all those acts that were not already top major sellers. Boohoo but you realise you are not in this business just to make money and and buy a pile in Surrey, its about the doing and the making so the intrepid duo went back to their roots, started playing the Art Centre and club circuit with a small band and made another album on their own label called “Notes on Desire” , a jazzy r’n’b style album with a couple of original (!) covers, Anita O’Day’s “I Told I loved You Now Get Out” and Billie Holiday’s “I Want More”.

The band toured regularly until 1997 when your man decided to take a break from it all and focus on earning some steady crust for his brood. This also meant ending his association with Helen, the co writer for all those years, who went to work with the likes of Chris While, Christine Collister, Snake Davis and others and to make a number of independent albums.

Music making in whatever way you do it, tends to be a life long passion but sometimes has to take a back seat to other more significant life events. For such reasons he found himself away from music writing and recording for some time.

However during those barren years he played with the odds and some of the sods of the Valley such as the Mighty Inseminators and The Free Sandwiches. A more regular activity has been working with the 844s who write and play mostly original material in a dancey blues oriented r’n’b style.

But the time did come when the desire to write and record again returned, initially, as occupational therapy, working with a couple of good friends, Wally and Steve, who were actively writing and recording as This led to recording a couple of EPs of original songs, “Love is The Only Way” and “From The Top”. He also started working with a Welsh novelist and singer, Catrin Gerallt, making a couple of EP’s “Tuag Adre” and Storom Awst”.

Having acquired the bug again he went on to record his latest album  “Late Life Believer”. Very much a made in Happy Valley album it has been recorded in Hebden Bridge – – with the involvement of many of the best local singers, such as Steve Tilston and Des Horsfall, and musicians – see Artists page for more info – in this small but perfectly formed little town and valley where he resides.

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