Martin Rivas is bringing joy back to music. With songs that practically smile at you from the speakers, Rivas blends ?60s soul with a distinctly modern alt. folk edge to create a sound that is both instantly inviting and exceptionally deep.
Rivas has become a mainstay of the New York City singer songwriter community, and performs almost every night of the week. In addition to his own shows and residencies at some of the city's most-respected venues (The Bitter End, Rockwood Music Hall Stages 1 and 2, Joe's Pub, The Living Room) he brings together a rotating cast of local and touring musicians for his Campfire series, established with drummer and good friend Craig Meyer. Rivas recently opened for Jimmy Webb at the NYC River to River Festival, and has shared bills with the likes of Jeff Tweedy, Aimee Mann, Gov't Mule, and Hootie & the Blowfish.
On The Convalescence EP, his fifth release, a more contemplative side of the artist comes to the surface. Recorded in his home studio during the four months Rivas spent recovering from surgery and its resulting life-threatening complications, the album paints an intensely personal portrait of physical and emotional healing. However, the music is neither dark nor sad. Instead, it's a joyous celebration of victory, and combines the energy of his live shows with the intimacy of a project so private it could only have been made alone.
"Martin Rivas is a musician not to be overlooked. I have seen the way his gift can overtake a room, and I have experienced the beauty of these tracks and albums in my day-to-day to life. The Convalescence EP, if nothing else, is a true testament to the power of any artist to create in and under any circumstance?and in this case, to create something great." - buzzine
Recommended if you like: Paul Simon, Broken Social Scene, Bill Withers, Grizzly Bear
Visit www.martinrivas.net for more information.
- - - - -
As SonicBids isn't allowing me to edit band members for some reason, here is the current full-band lineup as of August 2010 (please disregard the other full-band listing elsewhere in this kit):
Martin Rivas - vocals, acoustic guitar
Craig Meyer - drums, percussion
Brian Killeen - bass, vocals
Patrick Firth - piano/keyboards, vocals
Greg Mayo - electric guitar, vocals
Chris Kuffner - electric guitar, vocals
Martin Rivas - vocals, guitar
Martin Rivas - vocals, guitar
Craig Meyer - percussion
Martin Rivas - vocals, guitar
Craig Meyer - drums
Brian Killeen - bass, backing vocals
when performing with full band:
Martin Rivas - vocals, acoustic guitar
Craig Meyer - drums, percussion
Eric Katerle - electric guitar
Brian Killeen - fender bass
Daniel Weiss - organ
Chris Kuffner - electric guitar
Ryan Vaughn - percussion
Pride of the Valley (2005)
Sea of Clouds (August 2009)
The Convalescence EP (June 2010)
A New Word live at The Bitter End, 4/29/10:
North live at The Red Lion, August 2009:
- - - - -
all CDs available for download at iTunes Music Store and similar music outlets
all CDs available at bandcamp.com and CDbaby.com for purchase
Martin Rivas – The Convalescence EP
[+ Show ]
For some reason I think that the late Mark Linkous would like this EP… I think only a true Sparkleh...For some reason I think that the late Mark Linkous would like this EP… I think only a true Sparklehorse fan would find that underlying layer of musicianship here…
Mr. Rivas has already been at it for years, playing show after show after show in his hometown of New York City, among many other places. Not to mention this is his fifth release since 2000. But ‘The Convalescence EP’ takes on special meaning. Not only did he write the record while stuck in bed recovering from a surgery that almost cost him his life….twice….but he also created what is potentially his best work yet.
This album (EP) follows Rivas’ 2009 release ‘Sea Of Clouds’ which was excellent as well. This one just appeals to me more… If nothing else, the opening track ‘Behind Their Thumb’ as well as ‘This Winter Isn’t Ending’ are two of the better songs I’ve heard this year.
Go browse through the entire library, study up a little on Martin Rivas.. I believe you’ll find a lot that will please you..
LoveSound Rating – 7/10
Favorite Tracks – ‘Behind Their Thumb’ & ‘This Winter Isn’t Ending’
Martin Rivas – www.MartinRivas.net
Review: Martin Rivas: The Convalescence EP
[+ Show ]
REVIEW: MARTIN RIVAS 'The Convalescence EP' by Julia Albain Featured Writer Some people neve...REVIEW: MARTIN RIVAS
'The Convalescence EP'
by Julia Albain
Some people never sleep, and some artists never stop creating. Martin Rivas would be one of these people. The man whose music has brought so much joy and inspiration to musicians and listeners alike here in NYC is back with a new five-track EP that shows not only Rivas’s range and diversity in stylings but also his deeply emotional vulnerability in the crafting of his songs.
The Convalescence EP is quite literally a resurrection out of broken-ness — an album written mostly in solitude while Rivas was laid up recovering from an ankle surgery that resulted in severe complications. Rivas told almost no one of the work he was doing and, upon releasing the album just recently, has given listeners a glimpse into some of the darker musings that encompassed his time in recovery.
Rivas’s previous album, Sea of Clouds, is intrinsically hopeful and optimistic. Songs like “Heckuva Day” and “Eclipse” are so full of joy, they leave nothing wanting, especially when performed live. Meanwhile, “Get Yourself Together” and “Hide in Me” pluck the heartstrings and soothe the ears toward gratitude and love. Highly mastered beats blend seamlessly with stripped-down, breathtaking acoustic and a cappella moments. The album is stunning in lyricism and musicality, and shows Rivas’s great love for the music and for life itself.
The Convalescence EP is naturally darker — time to consider things like origin, religion, family, and the harder parts of life itself leading to an album that is relevant to Sea of Clouds in the way it breaks down — much of which he created in his optimism.
The guitar tremblings that open the EP with “Behind their Thumb” feel like the soundtrack for a long winding car ride across generations and times and places. There is a deep sense of history in the mere 30 seconds of strumming and repetition. “The Cage” ponders the stars and the sky and blends beautiful melodies with a hint of slow R&B rhythm. “This Winter Isn’t Ending” is reminiscent of the experimentation in The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s album, with an incredible questioning tone to the lyricism. In the final track, “Raise Me Again,” Rivas blends his noted upbeat progressions and instrumentation with a story of adult longing for a reexamined childhood.
All in all, an eclectic but amazingly focused collection — a collection of stories that allows the listener to question their own perspective on a variety of universal concerns and, above all else, an incredible display of varied musicality and instrumental exploration.
Martin Rivas is a musician not to be overlooked. I have seen the way his gift can overtake a room, and I have experienced the beauty of these tracks and albums in my day-to-day to life. The Convalescence EP, if nothing else, is a true testament to the power of any artist to create in and under any circumstance…and in this case, to create something great.
You can grab your own digital download of The Convalescence EP here, where you can also find Sea of Clouds and plenty of other resources to become a bona fide Martin Rivas fan.
Martin will also be playing a free concert with legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb in Rockefeller Park on July 14th at 7:00 p.m. as a part of the NYC River to River Festival. For more info, visit here.
Martin Rivas: For the Love of Music
[+ Show ]
Sitting in a quaint coffee shop in Greenwich Village, my ears were treated to the delightful new Mar...Sitting in a quaint coffee shop in Greenwich Village, my ears were treated to the delightful new Martin Rivas track "Heckuva Day," a bright infusion of music bursting with sunshine, and a windows down, beach-bound sensation. The latest mastery off Rivas' not-yet-released album, "Sea of Clouds," gives listeners the ultimate taste of what happens when a soulful voice, genuine heart, ambitious mind, and natural talent spontaneously combust into a single person.
A native New Yorker, Martin Rivas comes from a diversely musical family; with a mother and grandfather who both sang, and cousins that range from classical composers to up-and-coming musicians. "There's always been instruments in our house, there's always been singing, and there's always been music," Martin divulges. At the age of 11, his uncle showed him a few chords on a guitar but the rest has been self-taught, mimicking favorite records by artists like The Police to learn style and composition. After playing gigs at CBGB's, The Bitter End, and Kenny's Castaways with his band "Serious Pilgrim" in the early nineties, the group parted ways and Martin took time off from the music business, only resuming recording, writing, and self-producing CDs "Bottleneck" and "Glorious" within the past eight years.
In 2005, Martin met drummer Craig Meyer, and the duo created a force called "Campfire" that has spread throughout the New York music scene. Playing approximately 1,000 shows over the past four years, "Campfire" began as a favor to the owner of the Red Lion. "Craig and I were playing with Jessie Gage, and sometimes on Sundays we would go to Washington Square Park and play under the arch, and then head to the Red Lion afterwards," Martin explains. One Sunday, the owner asked Martin and Craig to fill a three-hour time slot because someone had cancelled. The duo gladly accepted, entertaining the audience with a variety of rhythm and blues songs from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding, amongst others, and received such a fabulous response it became a weekly gig.
"Campfire" grew to be a Friday and Sunday night staple at Red Lion, as well as part of Tuesday nights at Slane Public House and Wednesdays at Prohibition. The concept is simple: Martin and Craig play a variety of covers and original songs, mostly chosen by the audience. "It's all about what the folks want to hear," says Rivas. "They write their requests down and bring them up [to the stage]." The duo randomly pick and play what is written- no rehearsal, no warning-resulting in an entertaining show that gets the audience singing, dancing, clapping, and coming back for more.
Another example of brilliance that recently developed out of the Martin and Craig brain trust is "Backscratch Sessions," which debuted at the Red Lion in April. "Backscratch," an idea a year and half in the making, dances with the concept of artists getting together to play each other's songs: each playing an original, a cover, and a cover of a fellow artist (which is a surprise). "There are so many fabulously talented artists playing around here that we said let's make it happen now," Rivas enthusiastically proclaimed. With a line-up that included Dave Pittenger, Kailin Garrity, Rachel Platten, Dan Torres, Nick Howard, Robbie Gil, and Amy Regan, to name a few, the night was a huge success and is becoming a regular event. "I was pleasantly surprised because we left there feeling like family," Martin beamed, "it was such a great vibe."
Not only incredibly gifted in exploring other people's songs, Martin also writes beautiful and infectious music and lyrics of his own, as seen in 2005's "Pride of the Valley" and the brand new "Sea of Clouds," currently being mixed and mastered with Dave Pittenger. "Pride of the Valley" was a therapeutic process for Rivas, as many songs deal directly and indirectly with the loss of his stepbrother on 9/11, who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald in the North Tower. Despite the song's upbeat demeanor, the lyrics for the crowd favorite "North," actually came from a dream that they found his stepbrother's body- visions of comfort, sorrow, and joy fill the listener and demonstrate Martin's unbelievable ability to bring a smile and foster hope through music.
A mainstay of the New York singer/songwriter community, Rivas has had the pleasure of watching this current scene evolve and transform over the past few years. With so many talented singer/songwriters and musicians to choose from Martin claims, "I can't imagine a greater concentration of talent at any time other than what's taking place right now in New York. It's a different industry now; every artist has immediate and instant global reach. And you can do with it whatever you want, the question is, it there someone out there to pick up on what you're doing."
"I'm floored everytime I come into the city to play," Rivas declares, observing the honest and heartfelt friendships between artists. "There are so many genuine people in this 'scene.' "
Now on a steady rotation of Campfire gigs and playing out original music at The Bitter End and Rockwood Music Hall, Martin Rivas is gearing up to release "Sea of Clouds," a record whose theme deals with messages of surviving and thriving in the face of turmoil. Working with several musicians and friends on the album inspired trust and provided comfort throughout the process. "I know that when its finished its something I'm going to be immensely proud of for the process for as much as it sounds," Rivas affirms.
A campfire is the perfect image for a Martin Rivas performance- it's warming, comfortable, social and endearing. New York is a vast city, difficult at times to make your way around, easy to get lost in... so if you haven't been to a Campfire, Backscratch, or Martin Rivas show, venture over one evening. I promise, you will feel like you just found home.
For more information on Martin and to listen to tracks, please visit www.martinrivas.net or www.myspace.com/martinrivas. Martin Rivas and Craig Meyer play every Sunday and Friday at The Red Lion- www.redlionnyc.com, every Wednesday at Prohibition- www.prohibition.net, and every Tuesday at Slane Public House- www.slanenyc.com.
The next Backscratch Sessions will be held at The Red Lion on Monday, June 29 at 10:00pm, featuring: Live Society, Jill Stevenson, Greg Mayo, Rebecca Haviland, Martin Rivas, Casey Shea, Bess Rogers, and Brent Shuttleworth.
Featured Artist: Martin Rivas
[+ Show ]
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Martin Rivas, an NYC-based singer-songwriter. He is...We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Martin Rivas, an NYC-based singer-songwriter. He is currently touring in support of his latest album “Sea of Clouds”, which is available now. We talked songwriting, influences, and of course, The Spinners:
1. You play a lot and you have a fantastic voice. What tips can you offer vocalists on the art of voice maintenance?
Thanks so much! Playing as often as I get to play, I definitely feel as though there are days that I don’t have as much voice as I’d like… so I pretty much go with what I’m given. Which on many days for me is nearly nothing! (laughs) Sometimes, a bit of rasp can be an advantage in a quiet environment. I love investigating and making use of the bits of squeal and snarl that I can get with varying degrees of raspy-voice-ness as opposed to being at 100%. It varies from day to day, and it’s like plugging your guitar into a different amp just to see what might come of it.
Luckily for me, I’m in the fortunate position of not having to speak much during the day, and rest is the greatest thing for me in terms of preserving my voice. Speak softly during the day, drink as much Yogi Throat Comfort Tea, or anything with some cardamom in it, and if you can, run the bathtub with really hot water, let the bathroom fill with steam, and just go and sit in there and read for 10 minutes at a clip. Those are the sort of things that work best for my voice.
2. When did you write the songs for Sea of Clouds?
The songs were written over a period of a few years. Of the tracks on the album, I think that “A New Word” was the first song that came around, and “I Need a Riff” and “Sorry to See You Go” were among the last. The discipline of taking the sonic and melodic ideas that are always floating around and fashioning them into something resembling a song is the part that seems to escape most easily from me, and it’s the hardest habit to get back into. A lot of these songs were floating around as half-completed sketches for the better part of a year before the discipline came back to complete them, which I don’t mind at all; I think it allows me to really understand the song and make it become what it wants to become. I only have a tiny handful of songs that have shown up at my doorstep completely finished, or that took 20 minutes to write; of those sort of songs, “Hide in Me” is one.
Writing songs is like therapy for me, except it doesn’t cost anything, and the sessions can last as long as I need them to. Taking a year-plus to write a song is comforting to me.
3. Who is the first person you share new songs with?
I’d have to say that my wife is the first to hear everything simply because she’s hearing every step of the process. She’ll always say, “that sounds ok” when I play her a finished demo, even if I’m totally stoked about it. She sure knows how to keep me in check. (laughs) I imagine it must be frustrating to hear the same melody six or seven hundred zillion times before it appears as part of a completed song, unless you’re the one writing it.
4. True or false. You went through a phase when you listened to The Spinners a lot.
That’s not a phase! I STILL listen to Philippe Wynne and the Spinners all the time. I’ve pretty much spent my entire adult life working backwards with music, finding older and older songs, singers, and melodies that make me melt, and 1940s, 50s and 60s rhythm and blues is the music that I have found most appeals to me. The Spinners are one of my absolute favorites, but I’m even more fond of Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Sam & Dave, Jerry Butler, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, Louis Jordan, and lesser known folks like Walter Jackson, Billy Butler, Bill Doggett, Bobby Bland, Wynonie Harris, Jimmy Ruffin, … man, I’ll go on for 20 minutes if you let me.
5. Is there a story behind “a name scratched on a desk?” Can you share it?
There really isn’t much of a story; I was visualizing the feelings of getting on with your life after a period of mourning. You know, after the shock, making arrangements, the wake, the funeral, and then coming back home and expecting, or being expected, to just get on with it. Those are the visuals that came to mind… someone being a memory now, a name scratched on a desk. It’s nothing new to folks who have been through it, and that’s why I wanted to say at the end, “this isn’t some sort of revelation, and it was never meant to be.”
6. Who taught you how to play music? Write music?
I remember singing along to 45s, and making the effort to be sure that I was singing in key, and even finding harmonies and counter-melodies, when I was 5 or 6. I think that was always around. My sister’s boyfriend kept a guitar at our house around the time I was 11, so I’d reach for that and goof around and search for things. Then my sister started taking piano lessons, so of course I’d hop on the bench and explore. It was my Uncle Joe who finally said, “enough goofing around, let’s show you some chords,” and he taught me the chorus to “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image, I guess because it only had a few, easy chords. I’m thankful that he took me a bit left-of-center from the get-go, rather than showing me “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” or “Kumbaya.” From there, I just started listening to my Police, Clash, and Beatles records and trying to play along.
7. What advice can you give Wanduta members who are just getting started with their music careers?
Play as often as you possibly can, to the point where there is no difference between being on stage or being at, say, a Dunkin’ Donuts. Put yourself in the position to be as comfortable as possible up there, and people will get who you are.
Listen to lots and lots and lots of music; listen to sounds; listen to conversations; listen to engines and squeaks and squeals; listen to short-wave; listen to everything. Find the comfort and melody within sounds.
Be to people the way you’d wish them to be to you, and if they’re not, be that way anyway.
You can catch Martin’s next show on Wednesday, December 16th 9p at The Bitter End NYC. He will be sharing the bill with Greg Mayo Band. Both Bands will combine with special guests to perform The Beatles “Abbey Road” full album. Martin will have 2010 residences at NYC clubs The Red Lion, Prohibition, and Slane, along with regular appearances at Rockwood Music Hall.
Martin Rivas Just Needs To Be Heard!
[+ Show ]
My mailman said it's time for us to get a P.O. Box for our office but we're not gonna do it! Thanks ...My mailman said it's time for us to get a P.O. Box for our office but we're not gonna do it! Thanks to all the artists out there who are sending us your stuff, please keep it coming! If you need our address, just email us and wheel hand it over. One artist this week that I totally dig is Martin Rivas (not the soccer player, that guy kicks stuff). These days a singer/songwriter from New York is more like a beginning character description in a film, and yet there are dozens and dozens of musical gems out there yet to be heard. If you know of one, please point us in the right direction. Luckily this week I received some awesome songs from an artist named Martin Rivas.
Listening to his new album Sea of Clouds almost throws me off; it contains an excellent consistency and style of Rivas but exhibits a lot of elements like soft rock? 90s alternative? indie?...It's got feel-good lyrics, and reminds me of back home, and fun summers. Beyond it's poppy sing along vibes, I really feel like Rivas' album shows us how much fun he's having being who he is. Wow that was deep, but moreover, just simple. We like that. Nothings forced, and there's just a lot of heart and layers going on here. You definitely need to get his albums and hit that repeat. He's got a string of residency-type shows going on in NY, yes you're so lucky. If you get mixtapes from me, expect to hear more from Rivas.
Sea of Clouds Album Review
[+ Show ]
by Christina Morelli With wild blonde hair, dark-rimmed glasses, and a smile that brightens and c...by Christina Morelli
With wild blonde hair, dark-rimmed glasses, and a smile that brightens and comforts even the gloomiest New York day, Martin Rivas is the unsurpassed winner of the NYC Artist Scene award for “Slow and Steady Wins the Race.” After years of diligently plugging away at his talent, accepting all performance opportunities and collaborating with a variety of artists, the gifted musician has brought the concept of family into the scene, creating a loving, supportive environment and nurturing opportunities for every artist to grow together. His previous albums, Glorious, Bottleneck, and Pride of the Valley were lovely seedlings, homegrown and ripe for picking, but with his fourth effort he’s finally found his prize-winning garden.
In a time when music can come across as contrived and forced, the serene, genuine quality and exquisite execution of “Sea of Clouds” provides loyal listeners with Martin Rivas’ best album to date. Tracks alternate between simple acoustic guitar riffs, soft piano melodies, and the explosive percussions of long-time friend and drummer Craig Meyer, bringing warmth, telling stories, and breathing life into the songs, while still maintaining the classic rock and reminiscent element that Rivas fans have grown to admire.
Perhaps the strongest feature of the twelve-track album, produced by Dave Pittenger, is the underlying positive consistency found in each of the songs, an attribute that Rivas is known for. Hope, love, happiness, and empathy are all superior messages, dominating the lyrics and intricately woven into the music. From the encouraging words “In the hour that’s the darkest, remember that you’re blessed,” found in “Get Yourself Together,” a tune that brings you back to the sweetness and soul of Smokey Robinson, to the rock n’roll sounds of “A Name Scratched on a Desk” and the infectious, sunny beat behind “Heckuva Day,” which draws subtle influences from pop greats like The Beach Boys, Martin has fully captured the journey he’s taken to date, sharing it graciously, powerfully, and with humility.
There are people in this world who sing for the glory and there are people who sing for love and fulfillment that a single lyric may touch just one person and change them, whether for a split-second or a lifetime. A master of his terrain, a role model to fresh singer-songwriters, and a constant supporter of the community who so obviously adores him, Martin Rivas is the latter, once again blessing us with his gift, softening the hardest of those New York hearts, slowing down the eternal rush of the city, and lifting us to a place in the sky where we can gently rest our weary, worn-out minds and escape into the simplicity of sound.
Please join Martin and crew at The Bitter End this Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 10:00pm for the “Sea of Clouds” album release and visit www.martinrivas.net for purchasing options.
Martin Rivas: Sea of Clouds
[+ Show ]
Martin Rivas’ CD ‘Sea of Clouds‘ contains one of my new favorite “feel-good” songs; Heckuva Day. ...Martin Rivas’ CD ‘Sea of Clouds‘ contains one of my new favorite “feel-good” songs; Heckuva Day.
The entire album is designed to make you sway and bop in your seat, feeling the rhythm take control of your body.
Martin was featured in the 10th episode of The Vinyl Experience. He graciously donated copies of his CD, as well as vinyl EPs featuring several of his songs (a very cool gesture).
You can pick up copies of his CD from various sources. Check out his site, www.martinrivas.net, for more details.
Martin Rivas & Craig Meyer: Where There's Smoke...
[+ Show ]
It’s not what they do; it’s who they are… When you are new to a city, when you have few friends i...It’s not what they do; it’s who they are…
When you are new to a city, when you have few friends in that city, and more importantly when it is a Friday night in New York City, you are supposed to “go out.” But on this particular Friday night a couple of weeks ago, I was just…tired. The kind of tired you feel when you haven’t gotten your city legs under you yet…you don’t have the stamina to get through those long days and still have the turn-around for a bangin’ night out. I laid on my designer air mattress, legs burning, thinking of every possible excuse I could make to get out of the invitation for dinner and drinks I had been extended. There were none. So I went. And oh…am I glad I did.
I walked into the Red Lion on Bleecker Street with my new acquaintances, and things were already looking up. Authentically Irish, I felt immediately at home and homesick all at once. I could only picture the mayhem that would ensue if my 50-plus-member Irish family were let loose in this joint. A couple of guys were setting up on a small stage, and a billing listed them as “Martin & Craig: The Campfire Session.” The place was mostly empty at this point, but it was 7:00 p.m. after all, and New Yorkers don’t believe in eating before 9 o’clock anyway.
By the end of the night, empty it was not. These guys had the place going. Packed to the brim with people singing along and dancing if the whim caught them, the bar was full of joviality and cheer. I looked around and had to wonder, what was the force that had nestled so subtly over this place in the course of a few hours?
Simple. Two guys, a few instruments, and a whole lot of love and devotion for what they do. Martin Rivas and Craig Meyer have been rolling slightly under the radar for over four years with their Campfire Sessions. Playing nearly every night of the week all across Manhattan, and then traveling outward on the weekends for original shows and private events, they are, quite literally, living the dream. Rivas has put out two full albums in the past few years, most recently in collaboration with Meyer on Sea of Clouds. But the reason for their success is all in perspective.
The guys graciously agreed to meet and chat with me over coffee about a week after my first encounter with their music, and in under an hour, I realized why I had found myself so at home listening to their stuff. To put it simply, Rivas said, “It’s not what we do…it’s who we are.” I don’t know if he realized, in those words, that he was saying a lot. They are musicians in the truest sense, that they do it because they have to…it is like breathing. But beyond that, their vigor for life, for the opportunities they’ve had, and their “serendipitous” joining of forces infuses their music with an irresistible charm.
Their recently released original album, Sea of Clouds, available (and highly recommended) at www.martinrivas.net, is a satisfying mix of soul and innovation. Any original songs off of the album that they play live at campfire sessions blend perfectly with all of their covers, and at times, I caught myself thinking that I was listening to a well-known classic when, in actuality, it was a Martin and Craig original.
The “Campfire” sessions, as I mentioned, consist of both original stuff and covers of about anything that the audience will pose the challenge of. Requests jotted on napkins and slipped to the stage are gathered by the guys and attempted with great bravado. Both Martin and Craig laughed when I asked if they would try anything…and said that they will to a degree, and they’ll be the first to laugh at themselves for any failed attempts. It is the enjoyment of it, they pointed out to me. After over 1,000 shows played together, they are still primarily interested in whether or not they are both having fun and enjoying the music they are making. This carefree approach makes them inventive and impulsive with their sound — two key ingredients that so many artists miss out on. Recently, their labors of love have given them the chance to travel as far as St. Thomas, where they fondly reminisced over a sound check that included a quick dip in the beautiful Caribbean oceans, and even an extended summer tour across Ireland in 2008. Both of their eyes lit up remembering the throngs of Irish drinkers and show-attendees who “knew how to have fun.”
As we wrapped up our chat before heading over for my second Campfire session, this time at Slane on MacDougal, Craig slipped over discreetly to pay for both his and Martin’s beverages. Martin laughingly explained how they are constantly trying to one-up each other and pay for the one another. He pointed it out as a brotherly sort of thing. I asked him if that was the relationship at hand, and he lowered his voice slightly to say, “Absolutely. I don’t think I could spend so much time with someone in a situation like this if there wasn’t that bond.” Craig described them as “a couple of nerds just floating along!”
I don’t know about nerds, because as they got revved up to play at Slane (another place I found myself at home in), they were certainly well-known and loved. I sat at a table alone, waiting for the show to start, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was sitting in someone’s living room, as if I had been invited to a family reunion that wasn’t mine. It was actually quite comforting. Both self-taught musicians, they are raw and naturally talented with a passion that is entrancing to watch. Rivas, on guitar and vocals, lends a unique and welcoming twist to everything he plays and sings with a voice that is enveloping, and Meyer owns his drums with such intensity that it is hard to look away when he gets going. In between sets, they took a quick break and I watched them make a mad dash outside for what I only assumed was the typical musicians’ mid-show smoke break. But a few minutes later, they strolled back in, each with an innocent cup of ice cream from a couple shops down. Oh yeah, these are my kind of people. Break over, they picked back up and easily had us all swaying and singing once again.
All of this, though, stems back to the fact that they love, and I mean love, what they do. Perhaps that is the charm and influence that nagged at me all the way home after I first saw them play. They aren’t “starving artists” in any of the mental, worn-down senses. I think to starve them would be to keep them from doing exactly what they are doing now. It is refreshing to see that light and spark in any artist’s eyes that get to do what they were made to do day in and day out. I think good art, in all forms, thrives on that. This, my friends, is good art — soul-nourishing music. In a city sometimes devastatingly obsessed with image, appearance, and importance, these guys are proof that success and happiness is as simple as getting to do what you love. It is infectious and inspiring to any hopeful…whatever the hope may be.
Martin and Craig are in residency with their Campfire Sessions at Slane every Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m., Prohibition (503 Columbus Avenue) every Wednesday at 9:00 p.m., and the Red Lion on Bleecker Fridays and Sundays around 7:00 p.m. Extensive show listings, more music, and more delightful info about these gents can be found at www.martinandcraig.com. Also, you can follow them on Twitter (don’t hate, you’ll love it once you go there) @ nyccampfire.
I could go on and on, and I have, but it goes without saying that checking out their music, attending a show, and supporting this duo in any way comes with my highest regards. Both Craig and Martin agreed that one of their favorite things about New York is the people and the energy they bring. These Campfire sessions are the perfect place to experience exactly that. Gems like this deserve to be uncovered because, without them, New York City is nothing but a big loud town with no soul. That isn’t the kind of city I’ve found it to be and I don’t expect it ever will be. Still, though, I find myself in constant pursuit of the less-than-obvious, since that is where I’ve found myself most inspired and continually seduced by my new home away from home. If you are currently, or ever, in the New York area, do yourself the favor of joining the Campfire. You will most certainly leave lighter than you came.
Set lists include tracks from across entire discography, with emphasis on newer songs... sets can vary to cover as small as a 30 minute set or as large as 3 sets in a 4-hour show.
Covers would generally include vintage soul/r&b (Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye), but would also include songs by bands like The Police.
List of frequently played original songs:
Behind Their Thumb
The Flame is High
Get Yourself Together
Head and Shoulders
I Am of Nothing
My Little Soul
A Name Scratched on a Desk
A New Word
Oh, Imagine It
Out in the Shade
Part of the Deal
Pray for the Impossible
Raise Me Again
Sleeping in the Shed
Sorry to See You Go
This Winter Isn't Ending
Winning, With Flowers
There are no upcoming dates at this time.