Marti Brom about rituals, decorating and her new CD

Posted by Dee-Ann On October - 9 - 20102,725 views

Photo by Ricardo Acevado


She looks dangerous and powerful. A Loretta Lynn dressed in black? I wanted to know all about this rockin’ lady’s bad habits and muscial adventures.  It took a while before I could grab her from her busy touring schedule and upcoming cd release. But all the way from Washington DC, here she is ladies and gentlemen: Marti Brom!   

 

So Marti, I read you were born and bred in St. Louis, Missouri. Were there any musicians in your family? Or did your family influence you in any music style? 

No professional musicians, although I think my family all had strong interest in many of the arts, my mother and one of my sisters were both very good painters.  I often listened to my father’s large jazz record collection, and I loved singing along to his Barbra Streisand records.   My oldest sister, Mignon, did have some interesting records, mostly softer 1960s rock and folk music. Later to be replaced by Glam Rock. So I would say that my interest in sounds and stagecraft of hard country music as a child came mostly from watching Hee Haw and the Porter Wagoner show (with Dolly Parton). My interest in singing rock and roll probably started when I dropped a coin in a jukebox and for the first time heard Suzi Quatro belt out “Devil Gate Drive”. 

How did you get to Austin? By car probably, but I mean, what made you move to Austin?  

Courtesy of the United States Air Force.  I met my husband Bobby in St. Louis at Blueberry Hill while he was an Officer stationed at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.  The Air Force then moved us to Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin Texas in 1991.  The Air Force then closed the base in Austin and we decided to remain as we had fallen in love with the town.  (Of course Bobby volunteered to return to the Air Force after our country was attacked in 2001, which is why we now live in Virginia near the Pentagon).  So, unlike most other Austin musicians, I moved there by pure chance.  We do still have our home there, so maybe some day we will return.

Your music is a mix between rockabilly, country, hillbilly. What do you think of the modern country music? Is it too much popmusic? Or do you have a few good words for some artists like Reba McEntire, Alison Krauss?    

Well, there really is no modern country music; not on the radio.  It is really tragic to me because American country music singers, song-writers and musicians were among the greatest artists of all time, and what Nashville produces today is an insult and disgrace to their legacy.  I do have to give Alison Krauss a bit of credit for helping keep alive interest in bluegrass, and I suppose I can give Reba some small credit in keeping alive interest in television sitcoms.

You write your own songs. How are they born? With a melody, a single line? A real life experience?  

I don’t really set aside time with the purpose of crafting songs.  Sometimes a single line or a melody, or even a whole song will just come to me while I’m doing something else. Some do come from a real life experience. Sometimes  people will ask me about a song I wrote, but I don’t like to give too much away. I like for people to read into it what they want.  I have stored up a few that I hope to present on my next record.  

 
 

In Vegas with Devil Doll

I’ve read the list of influences on your myspace site. A lot of people from the fifties, but also from the seventies, eighties, like Blondie, Ellen Foley, David Bowie. Are there more artists from the last few years you really like?

 

Oh my goodness, yes.  Even in only Washington DC I am always seeing new artists that I like.  I do not want to start making a list because I will leave too many people out.  One artist I think is in a league of his own is of course Nick Curran.  There are many women I dig, the one that is on my turntable the most lately is Colleen Duffy, known better as “Devil Doll”.  As far as star acts, I am very much enamoured with Southern Culture on the Skids.  Other modern acts that are dong interesting things include Detroit Cobras and Amy Winehouse and the Black Keys.

I also see Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball and Liza Minelli. Woman with great sense of humor. Do you use your sense of humor on stage?    

Well not in that I tell jokes or anything, like Deke Dickerson. Humor is just  a big part of who I am and they way I look at things. A lot of song-writers that I really like such as Rodger Miller(the guy who said “ my songs come from my soul, and I guess God just gave me a funny soul”), Loretta Lynn have a great sense of humor. I also have been really fortunate to work with musicians who have a great sense of humor. To do this ya just gotta have a funny soul!!

What are your do’s and don’ts on stage? Do you ever show up in jeans? A shot of whiskey before the first song, any rituals?  

 I might show up in jeans but not on stage.   For one thing I do not think people want to pay money to see someone on stage dressed like a member of the audience. It’s part of being an entertainer!  Besides, I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to wear some of my favorite outfits.  I don’t have any rituals other than not eating for several hours before I sing and I don’t drink  before a show.  This of course means I rarely get to enjoy the wonderful free meals and booze!! The band always seems to make up for that. One ritual I would like to have is to wear an new, custom made outfit for every show. It’s part of being an entertainer!!!

I also read you have two kids and you’ve decided not to be gone for weeks touring. How old are they now, and how do you manage being a mom and an artist?  Do you want them to be artists too when they grow up, or do you want to keep them far away from the stage?  

 They are old and I think they are off touring now! I would try to keep them far away from the stage but the kept coming and putting their little hands in the tip-jar.           

 
 
 
 
 

Photo by Ricardo Acevado

Do you have other passions other than music?

 Boy do I, a passion(some might call it a problem) thrift shopping for records, vintage clothing, hats, shoes, boots, jewelry, stuff.  I also have a passion for visual display. I worked all my life as a visual merchandiser in a large department store. My kids have  complained that I have never allowed them to decorate the Christmas tree, but I say that that is a job for a professional (actually I do get paid to decorate homes for Christmas).  I would love to design clothes. I have designed some of my custom made outfits.

Is there any place you haven’t played yet, but you wish to?  

Actually, I would like to play for the troops in a USO tour.

You’re about to release your next cd. Tell us all about it. Who wrote the songs. Guest artists playing? What’s so special about this cd?

 I should just tell you how this project began.  About two years ago I sang Ain’t That Loving You Baby and a couple of other tunes at Link Wray tribute show at the Birchmere in Alexandria put on by a legendary record shop owner named Joe Lee.  I dug the line-up that backed me, it was a harder sound than I usually worked with, and I thought a bit about a capturing those songs on a short EP.  Well, to make a long story short, after a few rehearsals, we extended the theme from Link Wray to include the whole DC area.  I had already started a different recording project of all original material with musicians outside of DC, but I ended up putting that one on hold. 

To keep in the spirit of the DC theme, we also brought in Jonathon Strong, an old friend who ran the DC rockabilly label, Ripsaw Records, in the 1980s.  Between all of us, we selected a roster of tunes that are connected somehow with DC area .. and area by the way, that has a very rich roots legacy.  Patsy Cline and Link Wray of course are from here.  The honky tonk I usually perform at in DC, Chick Hall’s Surf Club, was founded by Chick Hall, a man who turned down the job of playing guitar on what turned out to be  Patsy Cline’s final tour, because he was too busy managing his new club. 

So anyway, without giving away all of the surprises on the record, I will say that all of the new songs on the record were written by local artists, not the least of which is the title cut, “Not For Nothin’” by DC native Mr. Sean “High Noon” Mencher.  By DC area I really mean what is here called the DMV:  DC, Maryland and Virginia.  Original Ripsaw musicians guest on the cuts, including most notably Mr. Billy Hancock and Bryan Smith.  We were lucky that Grammy winning producer and pianist Peter Bonta was available to volunteer his services as producer.  Peter is the cousin of T Jarrod Bonta, our Snake Ranch piano player – something none of us realized until after we started the project.   

I got to meet Pat Brown, the Baltimore native who did the original version of  “Forbidden Fruit” in 1960.  Daryl Davis is a personal friend of hers and thought her song would be perfect for this project, and I think it is one of the best ones on here. You know what, I’ve said too much already..  when the record comes out next week, I will send you the promo sheets that Jon Strong wrote up, it pretty much lists the complete DMV connections of the record.  I will say that the four core musicians are Pedro Sera on guitar, Louis Newmyer on electric and doghouse bass, Saul McCormack on drums and the fabulous DC based boogie woogie piano-man Daryl Davis on ivories.  If you want to know more than that, and the identity of guest star musician and duetist,  then you will have to either buy the record or stay tuned for an interview, part two!

And so the Lady has spoken. Waiting we shall!

In the meantime let’s listen to her previous work: http://www.myspace.com/martirockabilly

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