From the Sixth Street clubs in his birthplace of Austin, Texas to the Alpine festivals in Switzerland, from music venues in Paris, France to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, john Arthur martinez has proven his music grades on stages all over. He acknowledges that he's among the fortunate few that can make a living doing what they love, "I write, record, and perform songs. And, in doing so, I bare my soul, meet new souls, and see the world." He's celebrating the release of Three White Spanish Horses, his 15th album of original music--yes, 15th. This, on the heels of his 14th, For the Love of Western Swing (And Other Love Songs) which was awarded Western Swing Song of the Year honors on August 13, 2020 by The Academy of Western Artists. Unfortunately, 2020, 2021, and 2022 Euro Tour dates were postponed until May and June of 2023, because of the pandemic.
His parents were divorced by the time he was four and even though his mom and stepfather primarily raised him, JAM saw his birth father -- a part time musician -- enough to know that being a performer was a tough life. Still, the Austin native had the urge to perform the Texas-style of country he loved since grade school, and sneaking into an Asleep at the Wheel show while he was still underage only made it worse.
He was performing weekly in local clubs by the time he graduated from what was then called Southwest Texas State University, playing his own songs and covers by George Strait, Dan Fogelberg, Hank Williams and the Beatles. After receiving his BA in Communications martinez moved to Tucson, Arizona to attend graduate school, and not knowing anyone gave him more than enough time to work on his songwriting. As he improved he decided to leave his studies and move back to Austin to seriously pursue a future in music. After numerous trips to Nashville and constant gigging, martinez released his first album, Spinning Our Wheels, in 1998 and sold it at his shows. A previous recording, On the Border was never released. 2001's Stand Your Ground brought him more attention but it was the American Idol-styled country television show Nashville Star that would break him into the mainstream. During one of the club gigs martinez played in Nashville, he was spotted by a rep from Dualtone records. He finished second on Nashville Star, but
Dualtone signed him and released Lone Starry Night in 2004.
His flowing melodies carry stories told by a true Texas songwriter and his songs have been covered by many independent artists and a couple of major acts. Flaco Jimenez in a duet with Raul Malo covered his "Seguro Que Hell Yes," co-written with Alex Harvey and Mike Blakely. Flaco's self-titled album that housed the track won the Grammy for Best Mexican-American Performance. Additionally, Alan Jackson recorded and included the very same song in his box set, Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story. Three of the JAM's songs are featured the independent film called I Miss You Already.
On occasion JAM will cover song like “When You Say Nothing At All,” (Nashville Star The Finalists) which charted on Billboard, but he gives it his own twist. Interestingly, his bilingual version of “Amarillo by Morning” is seen in line dance videos from Germany to Florida to South Korea. His D minor recorded interpretation of "Hotel California" which showcases his live band continues to wow audiences, stateside and abroad.
He keeps on writing, performing, and recording (in JAM Studio for his own projects and new albums for other Texas artists like: Pauline Reese, London Baleigh, Amara, et al.). In Spring of 2023 JAM will again tour Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France and, for the first time, Spain, in promotion of For the Love of Western Swing (And Other Love Songs) and the newest album, Three White Spanish Horses.
(Compiled by Jan Grape)
"It's so refreshing to meet an artist who plays every appearance with the enthusiasm and passion of his first gig! Musically john Arthur's got the goods, a smile that lights up the room and the infectious personality to deliver the complete package."
—Bill Cody, WSM, Nashville, TN
“john Arthur martinez is one of the great Texas singer-songwriters. Having seen him perform as a solo artist and with his band, it’s evident that this guy is the real thing.”
—Ray Benson, Asleep at the Wheel
“Nashville Star’s first-season runner-up john Arthur martinez (the eccentric capitalization scheme is a nod to poetry hero e.e. cummings) didn’t immediately parlay his TV notoriety into mainstream success, but he has spent the ensuing six years building both a solid catalog and a loyal following centered in his native Texas.
—Robert K. Oermann, Country Weekly
"This (Purgatory Road) should easily make the top album list for 2009 for every Americana radio programmer. Fantastic, diverse and just amazing.”
—Shayne Hollinger, 95.9 The Ranch, KFWR
“He loves his boots so much so that he wore them while playing tennis against a group of kids. He bet his bass player he could “school” the kids while wearing his boots. ‘And I did,’ he says. ‘I schooled them in my boots … and my hat.’”
—Samantha Carrizal, Texas Standard