Jan Garrett & JD Martin
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Jan Garrett & JD Martin

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"Jan Garrett and JD Martin have ‘No Complaints’ on new CD"

Jan Garrett and JD Martin have
‘No Complaints’ on new CD
Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times, Aspen, CO
October 17, 2008

CARBONDALE — On a sublime October afternoon in downtown Carbondale, local singer-songwriters Jan Garrett and JD Martin arrive for an interview. The first words out of Garrett’s mouth — “Oh man, are we lucky to live here or what?” — are almost too perfect an introduction to the core topic of the day’s conversation.

Garrett and Martin are just releasing their latest album. With expressions of gratefulness for what the world has to offer; Martin’s bright keyboards and the duo’s coordinated vocals rounding out mostly major-key songs, the music seems to exist outside of the pervasively anxious tenor of its times. The CD cover is a photo of the twosome, a married couple as well as musical partners, snuggling and smiling, barefoot, over tropical drinks. The album ends with “Laugh Track” — a minute-plus of people laughing. The album’s title is a phrase that probably hasn’t been uttered too often these past weeks: “No Complaints Whatsoever.”

Both Garrett and Martin say that they are not ignoring the torrent of bad news. Nor is their music meant merely as an escape from nervous reality. Instead, songs like the opener “Turning Tide,” which literally promises better times, and “Whoo,” which finds endless comfort in the understanding of a partner, are aimed at another reality: that making music meant to uplift and give assurance can actually create a zone of peacefulness.

“Mostly, for me, it’s a practical thing,” said Garrett of the nonstop positivity on “No Complaints Whatsoever.” “I want to do what works. I don’t want to spend a lot of time depressed, whacking through the weeds. I feel that focusing on what is working, what is beautiful, lovely, sparks my own creativity. When I reach for that vision, that vision comes back to me. And that’s a lot more fun than kvetching.”

There are several things that raise the album above pie-in-the-sky cheeriness. The songs are well-constructed — Martin has had a successful career as a songwriter in Nashville and Los Angeles — and well-played by a group of musicians that includes local John Michel on drums and Terry Bannon on keyboards. Garrett’s voice has tones of jazz and blues that add complexity to the sound. And the lyrics often suggest ways to cut through the storms of life; there is a sense of intention to the words.

“That’s what we aspire to,” said Martin. “[Singer-songwriter] David Wilcox, I’ve heard him say, Your songs remind you about who you are when you’ve forgotten. That’s what it’s about for me.”

“If I wake up freaked out in the middle of the night — and I do — I want a song I can remember and say, ‘Oh yeah,’ and it calms me down and centers me,” echoed Garrett. “I get hungry for that kind of inspiration. This music feeds me and sustains me.”

And though the title song might suggest otherwise — part of the lyric reads, “The high road is surprisingly easy/ Forgiveness shows up without a fight” — there is also the presence, however slight, of those things Garrett and Martin are trying to overcome with their messages. “Some days are diamonds/ Some days are dirt,” they sing in the country-rag, “See My Way Through.” On the title song, they claim to have “been down, been betrayed ... been broken up” — before coming around to the “new day dawning in my soul.”

“I watch the news occasionally,” said Martin. “We notice things we want to change — and part of living a good life is noticing what doesn’t work. But we don’t want to be whining, living in that world.

“In my past, I’ve written songs out of great pain. That could happen again. But today, I can’t quite get there.”

“It’s so easy to protest. And there are people who do that really well, and I congratulate them,” added Garrett. “I have a sensitive nervous system. I do my best to surround myself with things that make me feel good.”

A good bit of the good vibe comes, no doubt, from their relationship. A handsome and fit couple, Garrett and Martin seem to move in synch with one another. Almost all of the songs on “No Complaints Whatsoever,” their third album together, were co-written by the two.

It almost didn’t happen for them. Garrett and Martin were both part of the Aspen music scene of the ’70s: She sang mostly in Liberty, an eclectic band that toured occasionally as the opening act for John Denver and recorded on Denver’s Windsong label. Garrett was also part of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1976 tour of the Soviet Union. In the early ’70s Martin played in the Hallam Street Band, before moving into Tanglefoot for the second half of the decade.

But those were busy and productive days for Aspen’s performing musicians, and Garrett and Martin barely even crossed paths. In 1980, Martin left town, first for Nashville, then for Los Angeles, in both places making a living largely from his songwriting. Not until the mid-’90s did they find one another, in Aspen; they now live at the new Willits neighborhood in Basalt. Martin has mostly given up his writing pursuits outside of his partnership with Garrett. “In L.A. or Nashville, it’s always a crap-shoot,” he said. “When I’m working with Jan, I know everything we love, we’re going to record.”

The two celebrate their new album with a pair of CD release parties: Friday at the Aspen Community Church, and Saturday, Oct. 18, at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale. And now that they’ve had the audacity to basically proclaim that they have “no complaints whatsoever,” they notice every little moment when they do cross over to the dark side.

“We have noticed how much we complain since we wrote that song,” said Martin.

“You put it out there and it starts biting you in the ass,” said Garrett. “You become conscious of your own shortcomings. So it’s something to aspire to.”

“And as Jan points out, you can’t be grateful and complain at the same time.”


- The Aspen Times


• No Complaints Whatsoever (2008, newest Jan and JD collaboration)
• Already Home (2006, a collaboration of Jan and JD’s songs)
• Winter Songs (2007, a special edition of Jan & JD holiday songs)
• I Dreamed of Rain (2003, Jan & JD collaboration)
• One Heart (2001, JD’s songs)
• Gypsy Midwife, Songs for Soul Retrieval (1999, Jan’s songs)
• Don’t Go Back to Sleep (1992, Jan’s songs)



Jan Garrett and JD Martin are multi award-winning independent singer-songwriters who live and create their music in the heart of the Colorado Rockies near Aspen. Their music is described as “Rich and intelligent.....a velvet-hammer wake-up call as satisfying to the soul as it is to the ear..... Brilliantly crafted songs to open the heart and refresh the spirit.”

Both Jan and JD are seasoned professional performers, keynote concert presenters, and wise teachers of “Authentic Voice,” “The Soul of Songwriting”, and “Tuning Your Life to the Heart of Harmony.” Their recordings consistently receive wildly enthusiastic reviews. In live performance Jan & JD are deeply inspiring, fiery and funny, a compelling blend of luscious vocals, good humor, and masterful lyrics inspired from a broad spiritual perspective. This is soulful feel-good music with depth and integrity, audience satisfaction guaranteed.

Both Garrett & Martin won New Thought Songwriter Tribute Awards in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 they were awarded top honors in the Indie International Songwriting Competition (in the World category) and also won a Posi Songwriter Award from emPOWER Music & Arts.
JD Martin is an acclaimed songwriter of 5 Number One and 10 Top Ten country and pop hit singles. His songs have been recorded by such luminaries as Reba McEntire, Terri Clark, B.J. Thomas, Peter Cetera (from the band Chicago), and the Oak Ridge Boys. A native of Virginia, JD is a deep heart who knows that the music IS the message. He has won over 15 ASCAP awards for excellence in songwriting in Nashville and LA.

Jan Garrett is a jazz singer, master vocal coach, poet, wilderness vision quester, meditation student, and (yes) certified laughing instructor who has toured with John Denver, Steve Martin and the Dirt Band, and has appeared on the Tonight Show. She is listed in the Rolling Stone Who’s Who in Rock & Roll. A self-proclaimed Alchemedian and mother of identical twin daughters, she believes that “The chance of a lifetime is to be yourself.”
Jan & JD have just released their new CD “No Complaints Whatsoever,” a powerful life-enhancing collection of original songs recorded and performed with a twinkle and decades of soulful musical expertise. Secular gospel, 30’s jazz, Randy Newman-esque tongue-in-cheek tunes, unapologetic folk, and tasty rock & roll to dance, smile, and sing along to.

Catch the challenge: Tune in, move beyond problems, and be part of the solution with Jan & JD’s music as your soundtrack.

To date Garrett and Martin have recorded 7 CDs of original music, available at: www.Garrett-Martin.com