Gig: Martin Harley Band – Ironworks, Oswestry – 06 May 2010

Posted on: Saturday, Apr 3, 2010

Martin Harley Band

Martin Harley Band

Ironworks, Oswestry

06 May 2010

The Martin Harley Band are a uniquely talented acoustic trio whose musical palette incorporates all the best roots music styles, from blues to jazz to folk, yet are masters of their own art. With tender acoustic balladry, hot-blooded blues, complex rhythms and gorgeous three-part harmonies, and an almost boundless energy, the Martin Harley Band effortlessly challenge expectations of what a three-piece should be capable of.

Having spurred prominent music magazines to proclaim them “shining talents in the British acoustic scene…definitely ones to watch” (Guitarist Magazine) and declare “In the Martin Harley Band the future of British roots and blues is assured” (Blues Nights), there now appears to be a healthy buzz growing around the band. With an ever-expanding fanbase, reams of plaudits and acclaim, and a constantly ascendant profile, this band are beginning to reap the rewards for years of toil.

Unwilling to wait for lady luck to find them, the band have always preferred to gig and tour almost incessantly. Audiences across the world can attest to the energetic entertainment spectacle that is a Martin Harley Band gig.

As a live act, the Martin Harley Band have a pedigree that takes some beating. Every show, no matter how many they play, is an event, be it in the intimacy of a tiny West-Country pub or the grandeur of the Royal Albert Hall. In the past year or so, they have notched up scores of UK gigs from Penzance to Shetland, yet still miraculously found time for tours in France, Germany, Italy, Barbados and Australia.

The band itself has endured some personnel shifts during its lifespan, but has now evolved into the powerhouse trio of Martin Harley (Vocals, guitar, Weissenborn), Pete Swatton (Drums, percussion, balalaika, backing vocals) and Jay Carter (Double Bass, guitar, backing vocals). Naturally, it all revolves around Martin’s charismatic performance, organic yet meticulously crafted songs, expressive vocals and flawless musicianship. The band itself, however, is driven by the musical intelligence and ability of his two bandmates, and the deep understanding between the three.

Instrumentation, too, has caused quite a stir, with all manner of unconventional and unexpected musical contraptions, from Martin’s lap slide guitar (almost unprecedented in Britain) to Balalaikas, cocktail drumkits and more weird and wonderful delights utilised for both their live shows and on record.

As is to be expected from a band whose commitment to their art puts most others in the shade, the public profile of the Martin Harley Band is in the ascendant. Since the making of 2008’s ‘Grow Your Own’ album, achievements have followed each other at a dizzying pace, as their renowned work ethic has paid off in myriad ways. As well as the hectic live schedule the last year or so has seen them receive plenty of national airplay, and a huge increase in their already formidable fanbase.

Doors have been opening for them to new and exciting territory too. Recently, they have found themselves supporting James Morrison and G.Love & Special Sauce by personal invitation on their UK tours. They have played to a packed Royal Albert Hall, and pulled off a double coup at the 2009 Glastonbury Festival by filling both the Avalon and Acoustic stages to bursting with eager listeners. This is a band on the way up.
This success story is a far cry from the band’s humble origins. Martin Harley’s eponymous record was a home-made affair made on a skip-salvaged computer with mics from a car boot sale. Since that first album, Martin and his bandmates have gone from strength to strength, releasing the cult classic ‘Money Don’t Matter’, followed in 2008 with the diverse, reflective collection ‘Grow Your Own’.
Fast-forward to the present day, and the band have emerged from the studio after completing work on their fourth, eagerly anticipated LP, to be titled “Drumrolls For Somersaults”, and mooted for release on 12th April 2010. This will be preceded by the singles “Drumrolls For Somersaults” on 22nd February, and “Love In The Afternoon” on 15th March, and seem set to capitalise on all their hard-won achievements.

With a revitalized line-up, a wealth of experience and what promises to be their strongest collection of songs to date, the Martin Harley Band are poised to make 2010 their own.


Pete Evans

April 3rd, 2010 at 09:31
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Those of you unable to catch this outstanding band will get a second chance on July 16th at Goin’ Up The Country Blues & Roots Club at Worthenbury Village Hall. Since this gig was posted a couple of weeks ago, we have had a great deal of interest, so if you require tickets, please contact me on or ring 01948 770215.