Joe Martyn Ricke
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Joe Martyn Ricke

Huntington, Indiana, United States | INDIE

Huntington, Indiana, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Folk


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The best kept secret in music


"Austn Country/Folkie Feels a Heartland Vibe"

Although local singer-songwriter Joe Martyn Ricke hails from Texas, his music – a quirky combination of storytelling and acoustic Americana – can't help but be influenced by the traditions of the Midwest, he says.

"My music has always had an Austin country/folkie feel to it," he says. "But the more I live here, the more I've been working in a heartland vibe."

Ricke, a literature professor at Taylor University in Upland, has brought a decidedly unique voice to the local folk scene, writing songs about things such as a would-be priest who falls in love and gospel songs for vampires.

"I was sort of meditating on vampires and realized the new ones are very friendly in the new mythology," he says. "And vampires are really clear on the fact that they need other people. We all do; we just don't like to talk about it. So, it's a quirky idea, but the idea of neediness isn't that far removed from our own experience."

Ricke also peppers his music with literary references. J.D. Salinger, author of "The Catcher in the Rye," appears in three of his songs, he says.

"It's who I am," he says. "People say that it might be too highbrow, but it's not. I don't buy into the idea that people won't understand it. If you make a song enjoyable to listen to – give it a strong hook – you can throw some really dense stuff in there."

For the past year, Ricke has focused on uniting the local folk community, both in Fort Wayne and Huntington. Every month, he hosts a songwriters' workshop at Firefly Coffee House on North Anthony Boulevard. The event features local performers (including poets) who answer questions about their music after their set.

"I do this partly to encourage people who are singer/songwriters," Ricke says. "An ongoing conversation about music is one of the things that characterizes a vibrant musical community."

Collaboration is nothing new within the folk music scene. Sharing music, spontaneous jam sessions, accompaniment. It's all part of the roots of the tradition, Ricke says.

"I love learning from other musicians," he says. "I love a good song. I love to jump up and sing harmony with someone. When people are really sharing a song, it doesn't get a whole lot better than that. When you talk about human history, it all starts with people singing together."
- The Fort Wayne (IN) Journal Gazette

"Joe Martyn Ricke: Strangely Satisfying"

Ricke tries to write sad songs, but they always end up being upbeat, which is not hard to imagine, since he seems to have more caffeine in him that "Surge."

He writes what he calls "crazy stuff"--his present project a gospel song for vampires, called "Drink it up." - The Echo

""It's Steve Earle""

aaaahhhhhhhh.....its steve is it tellin is ..f*****g is..

i think he is undercover...mmmm

- Steve Duffy (Dublin's Zodiac Sessions)

"Joe, Steve, Harry, and the Rio Grande."

I heard the Rio Grande in Joe Martyn Ricke before reading his bio. His music has been compared to Steve Earle and I would agree.

Joe reminds me of Harry Chapin with a harmonica. The lyrics are clever, his melodies are refreshingly original and his style is user friendly. Joe placed very high in my Sonicbids [songwriting] competition, and pretty much blew the other acoustic guitar singers out of the water.

I would write more but I am going to rewind Joe's tune Little Clarissa for the third time. Rewind gave away my age didn't it? Good luck Joe, but I doubt you will need it.

Gary Allen (The Charlie Daniels Band, JJ Cale, Stonewall Jackson) - Gary Allen (Songwriting Competition)

"Earthy Brand of folk-Americana"

Somewhere near the intersection of Steve Earle, Gillian Welch, and Bruce Springsteen (with a little Johnny Cash in the trunk) is the music of Joe Martyn Ricke.

Joe plays an earthy brand of folk-American--full of yearning, celebration, and brackish gospel.

His tragic ballad, "Little Clarissa," in one beautiful song. - Jim Spiegel, author of


World without Synthesizers (1992). This professional recording, self-distributed is out of stock. Revised, slightly altered, version to be released July 2009.

Quixoticism: Live from Toast and Jam in 2003 (also self-produced). Out of stock. Mix of live covers ("Girl from the North Country," "Hide Your Love Away" and others, plus originals like the epic "Heart to the Healer" and "Prodigal Boy."

Currently working on two projects. New original songs from the Heartland, tentatively titled "Little Clarissa and Other Stories."

And a collection of my unique spin on traditional American songs, hymns, ballads, etc. (listen to "King's Bizness" at this site).



Born in the Rio Grande Valley on the border of Texas and Mexico, Joe Martyn is a teacher, poet, actor, singer-songwriter, and raconteur in the tradition of . . . well, in the tradition of Texan teacher-poet-actor-singer/songwriter-raconteurs.

Drawing upon the traditions of American and European folk music and the music tradition of the American Heartland--gospel music, the wide-open spaces, the amazing variety of landscapes, characters, and stories.

Influenced by the classic American sounds of the Everly Brothers, Johnny Cash, and Steve Earle, yet inspired today by the cities, the cornfields, the farmers, the musicians, and the community builders of the Midwest--Joe brings a big voice, a strong sense of irony, and a poetic imagination to stories of love, loss, faith, doubt, and redemption.

Proud of being a Native Texan and still getting down to Austin whenever he can, Joe is trying to help build a vibrant community of singer/songwriter/poet/visionaries in the place he has put down roots for almost 20 years. As he says in one of his stories, "It's not for nothing that they call it the Heartland."

Joe plays at local coffeehouses, schools, clubs, festivals, and other venues in the midwest. One of his favorite gigs is his Songwriter's Showcase, at which he hosts one or two other songwriters for an evening sharing songs and the stories behind them. He had the great thrill of sitting in with some other performers at legendary Luckenbach, Texas (performing his original songs for a songwriter's night hosted by Ken Gaines and Butch Morgan). He also plays occasionally in England and Ireland (see his video from Zodiac Session in Dublin at this site).

Joe's father couldn't sing a lick, but he would always try to croon Streets of Laredo when he was out on a fishing trip. This perhaps had something to do with the scarcity of the catch. Joe's mother, the notoriously beautiful Nita Ricke, would recite sentimental poetry, paint bad impressionist paintings, and sing traditional American songs (which she learned as a child in the hills of Arkansas), accompanying herself on the harmonica and, badly, on the banjo. Her father, Charles Thompson, was a member of the hillbilly band, The Arkansas Travelers (whose 78s you can still sometimes find in a thrift store).

Some of what I have said is true. The rest, I hope, is interesting. I'm a story-teller, an entertainer, and a poet. Most of all, someone who connects with audiences. And supports other musicians.