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Asa Martin

Old-time Kentucky singer Asa Martin made many records during the '20s and '30s and was closely associated with the famed fiddler Doc Roberts, for whom he played rhythm guitar. In turn, Roberts frequently played mandolin on Martin's recordings; Roberts' son James even sang duets with Martin under the name Martin and Roberts.

Martin was born in Clark County, Kentucky and grew up listening to the traditional music presented in minstrel shows and vaudeville productions. Inspired to become a performer, he joined a traveling show or two and learned to play guitar. It was during this time that he met Doc Roberts, who had him sit in on a recording session in Richmond, Indiana. His first solo songs were mostly parodies, such as "The Virginia Bootlegger" and "There's No Place like Home (For a Married Man)." Martin moved to more traditional ballads after he teamed up with James Roberts in the late 1920s, including "Knoxville Girl," "Lilly Dale," and "Give My Love to Nell." Occasionally, the two also sang contemporary old-time style songs, such as "The Little Box of Pine on the 7:29." They continued to record together until 1934, when Martin became the host of the Morning Roundup in Lexington. He returned to recording in 1938, again focusing on comedy songs with the occasional ballad, like the haunting "Harlan Town Tragedy."

Martin quit music after the outbreak of World War II, initially working for a munitions factory in Middletown, Ohio. He retired in 1965 and moved to Kentucky, where he founded the Cumberland Rangers. In 1968, his early contributions were unearthed by music scholars Archie Green and Norm Cohen, who helped arrange a reunion concert between Martin and Roberts. In 1974, Martin and the Cumberland Rangers recorded an old-time music album, Dr. Ginger Blue. ~ Sandra Brennan
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Baby, How Can It Be? Songs Of Love, Lust & Contempt From The 1920s And 30s

Disc 1

1. Baby, How Can It Be?

8. Hapa Haole Hula Girl

9. Sweetest Girl In Town

17. Lost Lover Blues

20. Don't Leave Me Here

Disc 2

2. Tomi Tomi

7. It's Heated

12. Wild About My Loving

13. There's More Pretty Girls Than One

20. Nehi Mama Blues

Disc 3

1. I'm Gonna Kill Myself

2. She Ain't Built That Way

4. You Gonna Look Like A Monkey When You Get Old

7. I Used To Call Her Baby

14. I Want To Ask The Stars

15. Some Cold Rainy Day

16. Corinna Blues

17. Big Leg Blues

20. The World Is Going Wrong

x

Track List: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: Super Rarities

Disc 1

2. Mississippi County Farm Blues

4. I'm Going Back Home

5. Fightin' In The War With Spain

8. Slidin' Delta

10. Rollin' Dough Blues

11. Ginseng Blues

15. Two Step De La Prairie Soileau

16. Operator Blues

18. Jim Strainer Blues

20. Old Rub Alcohol Blues

21. Mistreatin' Mama

Disc 2

1. Sweet Mama

3. Clarksdale Moan

5. Down In Texas Blues

7. I'm Leavin' Town (But I Sho' Don't Wanna Go)

8. Wild Cat Rag

9. Whoopee Blues

10. Davey Crockett

11. Skinny Leg Blues

15. If I Call You Mama

16. My Mind Is To Marry

18. Don't Speak To Me

19. Married Man's Blues

20. Sweet Betsey From The Pike

21. Boll Weevil

23. Bells Of Love

x

Track List: Kentucky Mountain Music, Part 4

1. Old Flannigan

4. My Cabin Home Among The Hills

6. There's No One Like The Old Folks

8. Sporting Bachelors

9. Sourwood Mountain

12. Lack Fol Diddle I Day

14. There's More Pretty Girls Than One

18. Wallins Creek Girls

x

Track List: Kentucky Mountain Music, Part 3

3. Richmond Blues

5. Ain't Going To Lay My Armor Down

6. Old Voile

7. Gentle Annie

9. Lady Margaret & Sweet William

10. And The Cat Came Back

13. Johnny O Johnny

14. Taylor's Quickstep (Monroe County Quickstep)

20. Medley Of Old Time Dance Tunes Part 1 (Husking Bee / Old Molly Hare / Wild Horse / Soldier's Joy / Arkansas Traveler)

x

Track List: Flashbacks, Vol. 1 - High & Low Drug Songs

1. That Cat Is High

2. Junker's Blues

3. Who Put The Benzedrine In Mrs. Murphys Ovaltine

4. Don't You Make Me High

5. I'm Wild About My Stuff

6. You're A Viper

7. Selling That Stuff

8. Moonshine Man Blues

10. Minnie The Moochers Wedding Day

11. The Ghost Of Smokey Joe

13. Dope Head Blues

15. Fixin' To Die Blues

16. Cocaine Habit Blues

17. Reefer Man

18. Cocaine

19. Jake Walk Papa

20. Kickin' The Gong Around

23. Feeling High And Happy

x

Track List: White Country Blues (1926-1938)

Disc 1

1. K.C. Blues

2. Cannon Balls Blues

3. Leaving Home

4. If The River Was Whiskey

5. Duplin County Blues

8. Darkey's Wail

9. Johnson City Blues

10. Mistreated Blues

12. Steel Guitar Blues

15. Ash Can Blues

20. Ramblin' Blues

21. Worried Blues

22. Train That Carried The Girl From Town

Disc 2

2. Deep Elem Blues

5. Somebody's Been Using That Thing

10. Lonesome, Broke And Weary

11. Chicken Roost Blues

12. Tom Cat Blues

17. Drunk And Nutty Blues

18. Chattanooga Mama

19. String Bean Mama

20. Copper Head Mama

21. Long Chain Charlie Blues

22. Georgia Brown Blues

23. New Jelly Roll Blues

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