String picker Frank Martin debuts his `traditional roots’ CD Friday |

String picker Frank Martin debuts his `traditional roots’ CD Friday

For Frank Martin, the creation and production of his first CD, “In a Slanting Light,” marks a step forward and a step backward in his evolution as a musician.

Martin, who has sung and played guitar in well-known bands in the valley for many years, sees the CD as a departure from his usual rock and roll groove developed with bands such as Sneeker and the Sirens.

It is also a step back to the traditional roots music that formed his artistic ethos.

“In the Slanting Light” features 10 songs penned by Martin, who also plays all the instruments – acoustic and electric guitars, electric lap steel, mandolin, fretless bass – except or the addition of Mark Gray on accordion on “Freeborn Man.”

“The album draws from my love of roots music – bluegrass, country, Cajun – and runs from the personal to the historical. I hope my songs deliver a picture or epiphany, some tangible moment we recognize and share,” he said.

“For all the trials of creation and production, `In a Slanting Light’ delivers a journey around my heart and head and seems to have a soul of its own,” Martin said.

A CD release party is set for 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at Steve’s Guitars, 19 S. Fourth St., Carbondale, with special guest Sue Krehbiel.

Martin’s artistic turnaround came after years of playing rock and roll with Sneeker, which disbanded in the mid-1990s. His growing frustration with playing the same material year after year prompted him to begin penning his own songs.

“In the last few years I’ve evolved into the traditional folk song structure with simpler words,” he said. “That really fits for me.”

Martin wrote songs when he was in his 20s, but was not satisfied with most of the results.

The simple stories of his songs are both personal and reflect larger issues.

“Water,” which he performed at the Folks Festival, is about a rancher who expresses his anguish over this year’s terrible drought.

Martin also wanted to push the release of the CD so he could take the finished product to the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons this August. Two of the songs off the CD won him fourth place in the Songwriters Showcase at the Folks Festival .

This year’s effort was the third time Martin submitted songs to the showcase. He made the cut as one of 10 finalists from 400 other musicians who’d submitted their work.

The performance on Aug. 16 went well, Martin said. It helped to have taken a performance workshop the week before at the Folks Festival. The instructors taught him, “It’s not about the you, it’s about the song.”

But he also brought his years of experience to the stage that weekend.

“I learned a long time ago that if you think this has to be the best performance, that’s a recipe for disappointment. It’s better to have as much fun as possible,” he said. “The two songs weren’t the best performance, but they were fun.”

His attitude toward performance and his approach to his music formed over the years since he picked up his first guitar at 13.

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1958, Martin was named for his maternal grandfather, a Baptist preacher from Louisiana. His family moved to Colorado Springs in 1965.

Martin quit engineering school at the University of Wyoming after one year and returned to Colorado Springs, where he played with a series of country and rock bands.

He enrolled in Colorado Mountain College’s photography program and moved to the valley in 1981. His first job out of college was with the Snowmass Sun newspaper. He also worked as a photographer for the Aspen Times and as the art director for Climbing Magazine. He now works for Design Studio in Basalt.

Martin continues to play with the Sirens, an eight-piece wedding and party band, and with Matt Johnson and Boneyard.

Martin’s CD is available at Sounds Easy in Carbondale, Glenwood Music in Glenwood Springs, Great Divide Music in Aspen and online at

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