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Conversation & Song with Jeffrey Martin & Allan Jones

As a babe Jeffrey Martin sought out solitude as often as he could find it.  He’s always been that way, and he has never understood the whole phenomenon of smiling in pictures, although he is a very happy guy.   One night in middle school he stayed up under the covers with a flashlight and a DiscMan, listening to Reba McEntire’s ‘That’s the Night that the Lights Went Out in Georgia’ on repeat until the DiscMan ran out of batteries.  That night he became a songwriter, although he didn’t actually write a song until years later. After high school, he spent a few years distracting himself from having to gather up the courage to do what he knew he had to do.

Eventually, he found his way to a writing degree, and then a teaching degree.  He wrote most days like his life depended on it, all sorts of things, not just songs, but songs too.  He fell in love with teaching high school English, which was fantastic because he never thought he’d actually come to truly love it.  His students were fierce and unstoppable forces of noise and curiosity, and for all that they took from him in sleep and sense, they gave him a hundred times back in sparks and humility.  

All the while he was also playing truckloads of music.  There was one weekend where he flew to LA while grading essays on the plane, played two shows, and then flew back home, still grading essays, and woke up to teach at 5 am on Monday morning.  It was around this time he started wondering if such a life was sustainable.

Alas, music, the tour life, was a constant raccoon scratching at the back door.  Jeffrey spent nights on end sitting up in bed, and then sitting on the front porch, staring off into the dark, wondering if he could bear to leave teaching to go on tour full-time.  Eventually, his brain caught up with what his guts had known for months.  With tears in his eyes, he announced to his students that he wouldn’t be back the following year and that he didn’t feel right hollering at them to chase their dreams at all cost if he wasn’t going to do the same.  

Jeffrey Martin tours full-time now.  He is always making music, and he is always coming through your town.  He misses teaching like you might miss a good old friend who you know you’ll meet again.  

Jeffrey has put out bunches of music since 2009, but he’s most proud of the more recent stuff.  He’s fortunate to be a part of the great and loving family that is Fluff and Gravy Records in Portland, OR.   “One Go Around,” which released in October 2017, is his 3rd full-length album. At his luckiest, he’s shared shows with the likes of Sean Hayes, Gregory Alan Isakov, Courtney Marie Andrews, Jeffrey Foucault, Joe Pug,  Peter Mulvey, Amanda Shires,  Sean Rowe, Tracy Grammer, David Wilcox, and others.  

He currently lives in Portland, OR but feels lately that it has become a secret that someone figured out how to monetize.  And since he has no money of any kind, everything beautiful about the city is marred by the quiet ticking of a countdown toward the day that he’ll have to find somewhere to live that doesn’t require a steady bleeding fortune.

Allan Jones  is an award-winning British music journalist and editor. He was editor of Melody Maker from 1984 to 1997 then launched Uncut magazine and for 15 years wrote a popular monthly column called Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before, based on his experiences as a music journalist in the 70s and 80s, a prosperous time for the music press. His book, Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down, was the Sunday Times‘ Music Book of the Year 2017.

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"Jeffrey Martin's music is not widely known, which is a shame, because he might be the best songwriter in Portland. With lyrics that read like Raymond Carver stories and a voice that's one breath away from breaking completely apart, Martin's songs are beautiful, sparse, and utterly devastating. . . . If there is any justice in the world, Martin's music will soon reach a wider audience and inflict devastation on a much larger scale. " -Santi Elijah Holley