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Martin Harley is a phenomenally talented guitarist, singer and songwriter hailing from theUK. At age 37, Harley has made a name for himself inGreat Britain(he was born in Walesand raised inEngland). Having now toured both solo and with a band across the world, he’s gigged with G. Love and Special Sauce, Donovan Frankenreiter, Five For Fighting, Beth Hart, Good Old War, Gavin DeGraw, James Morrison, Scars on 45, Mieko, The Dunwells, and other modern day troubadours. He’s cultivated something of a cult following among surfers in particular, in part, perhaps, because he still dedicates about a month per year to the sport. But mostly, he’s known as a prodigious lap slide player with a blues authenticity that belies his British heritage – upon first listen, you would swear he was from the muddy swamps of the dirty delta.
In addition to his acclaimed solo work, he fronts the highly praised UK-based acoustic trio, the Martin Harley Band, a testament to his tireless work ethic and devotion to his craft. A life long devotee of acoustic guitar music, especially the ageless blues/roots sounds, he has travelled the globe absorbing a plethora of diverse influences and honing his craft into the classic songwriting style he possesses today. With four critically celebrated albums released in theUKandEuropeand a #1 album on the iTunes UK blues chart last year with Drumrolls for Somersaults, features for Guitarist Magazine, the BBC, countless European festival features and world press, Harley has a strong and solid base of fans spanning the globe. Martin is a deeply important and respected voice in the evolution of popular blues and folk oriented guitar and vocals and is now expanding on his international success with recent time spent in theUSrecording and setting up his American release.
Harley traveled toTexasto team up with Bob Parr, original bass player for The Brian Setzer Orchestra and well-known producer and arranger in the pop/rock world, and his wife, Claire Parr, long-time music industry vet of Enigma, Geffen and Curb Records and founder of The Navigator Company which specializes in radio promotion, to produce his first U.S.solo album Mojo Fix. The album marks the first time Martin has used multiple outside musicians including Santana and Steve Winwood veteran Walfredo Reyes on drums, Charlie Bisharat whose a famous violinist known for his work with Shadowfax, McKenzie Smith of the Texas-based band Midlake, and pop pianist/Singer/songwriter Jon McLaughlin to add some keys. In keeping with his journeyman sensibilities, everything about the making of this record was different than anything he conquered before – including his four previous, U.K.-released albums.
“The songs on Mojo Fix have been written on the back of my hand or in bus queues and at airport terminals and some at the bar,” says Harley. “A few have been resting at the base of my spine from wilder years. There is no regular process for me to write. Often the guitar is a staring point and I collect riffs and ideas on my mobile phone. Sometimes a song can be inspired by a conversation between two old ladies waiting for a train or by revisiting a favorite album and hearing something new in it. If you keep your eyes and ears open, and you're moving around all the time, then I think you can increase the chances of stories finding you. My taste is pretty eclectic and I'm as likely to start my day with Django Reinhardt as withQueensof the Stone Age, a cup of tea or a cold beer.” With such a wealth of experience under his belt, it is no surprise that his life is interwoven with his music, every song telling the tale of a life well lived. As a player, he fuses remarkable musicianship with intuition and a deeply ingrained musical understanding, the resulting Mojo Fix is laden with songs that are at once world-worn and timeless. Renowned for his prowess as a slide guitarist, he is almost unique in the UK in his playing lap slide. In other areas and styles, however, he has proved himself a master guitarist and a consistently astounding songwriter.
Martin Harley recently wrapped up a tour with World Party and is set to open for blueshop singer ZZ Ward and rock band Delta Rae on their co-headlining ‘Fire And Shine’ tour next year. He plans to tour behind Mojo Fix through 2013 – around the globe and, of course, across theUnited States.
“America fascinates and excites me, as I have watched it from afar for many years and enjoyed it through the eyes of beat poets, writers, rock ‘n’ rollers, bluesmen, and comedians,” he says. “I have endlessly listened to its exciting, irregular beating heart and traveling through it has been a great educator.”
As Harley continues to get his Stateside education, you can bet the whole jug of moonshine that he’ll teach plenty of listeners a thing or two, himself, along the way.