john Arthur martinez
©2005 (jAm Records)
[plus additional titles]
Review by Lucky Boyd

Perhaps the finest male crossover artist to ever come out of Texas, John Arthur Martinez galvanizes the relationship between country music and the Tejano music experience.  The 2005 release is LIVE IN NEW ENGLAND and it’s ten tracks (13 songs) of consummate ‘jAm’ as Martinez delivers live his hits like “The Armadillo Song” (the official song of the MTM newsletter – The MTM Armadillo), “Frijoles Con Arroz,”  and “Lone Starry Night” as well as some great surprises like the Overstreet/Schlitz classic “When You Say Nothing At All” (one verse in Spanish) and the popular “LaBamba.”  Martinez co-writes many of the cuts with fellow MTM member Mike Blakely.  Performing solo with just a guitar, this is Martinez at his best, connecting with his audience and having a blast on stage.  There’s a bonus track, written for jAm’s love of his life, Yvonna,  that’s worth the price of the entire album.  Martinez was always a great performer, but his national success of late has matured him into one of the finest entertainers in North America.  Second only to Buddy Jewell in 2003’s USA Network’s Nashville Star television show ‘competition,’ Martinez won the hearts of all who heard him.  His demeanor on stage and his never-ending charm keep him a fan’s favorite for live performances.  His recorded music tells a story of an artist dedicated to his craft, with expertly delivered material, including masterful recordings of perfectly penned or co-penned songs.  John Arthur’s smooth voice embraces each song, whether it’s the folky “Spinning Our Wheels” or the lover’s anthem “River Of Love” (recorded in English with co-writer Stephanie Urbina Jones, and in Spanish ‘El Rio Amor’with Tish Hinojosa).  Martinez co-writes additionally with fellow MTM member Mike Blakely, and with the respected Hill Country writer, Anders Rasmussen.  Several other discs are offered here, the 1998 release SPINNING OUR WHEELS, the 2001 release STAND YOUR GROUND, and the 2003 gem AMOR! AMOR!.  Each disc’s lineup of pickers reads like a who’s who in Texas music with such names as the aforementioned Jones, Hinojosa, and Blakely, plus Albert and Gage, Floyd Domino, Larry Nye, Glenn Fukunaga, and a host of other names you would know.  Each disc is a treasure, with AMOR! AMOR! being the more ‘flashy’ of the three, but some of the best songwriting is on STAND YOUR GROUND where you can find “A Girl Named Texas” co-written with Texas mainstay Kent Finlay.  If you own these discs, good for you.  If not, you’re probably just plain ‘loco!’  Here’s your chance to redeem yourself.