Born in a town whose hippest visitors usually head straight for Jack Kerouac's grave, Bob Martin spent his youth working in the mills along the Merrimack River as well as traveling back and forth across America. In the '60s he was associated with the Boston folk music scene, performing his original songs with strummed guitar accompaniment in venues such as the Nameless Coffeehouse and Club 47. Early in the '70s a great opportunity came along with a trip to Nashville and the assistance of the town's studio wizards including famed guitarist Chet Atkins on an RCA album entitled Midwest Farm Disaster.
The disaster, however, seems to have happened to Martin's career as well as the family farm. Despite several more years of almost constant touring, often supporting big-name folk acts, by the middle of the decade Martin had become exasperated with the music business. He moved to a farm in West Virginia where he began raising a family and started up a center for learning traditional Appalachian crafts, the Mountain Heritage School.
His second attempt at an album didn't come along until 1982. Last Chance Rider was released on the independent June Appal rather than a big label. Eventually he returned to the old home ground of Lowell, Massachusetts and continued developing a recording career with (hopefully) national reverberations, albeit one in which gaps of a decade seem to be part of the process. During these periods Martin has been employed as a school teacher, carpenter, college instructor, house painter and truck driver. His album The River Turns the Wheel was released in 1992, this time on his own Riversong imprint. In 1999 he opened a series of shows for country and western legend Merle Haggard. ~ Eugene Chadbourne