Being in the gear industry for as long as we have has enabled us to cross paths with some really incredible players. No matter how long we do this, we are always amazed by the musicians who can go from the practice room, to the studio, to the stage without missing a beat. Those virtuosic jacks-of-all who can rip a monster guitar solo just as masterfully as they can write and sing a perfectly-crafted song.
Today we’ll be sitting down with one of the above types of well-rounded players, Martin McDaniel. We’ve known Martin for a while now and he’s always been a big advocate for Mojotone, and we want to be able to advocate for him in return. So let’s check out what Martin had to say about his early inspirations, ongoing motivations, and goals for the future.
As always, we started at the beginning so we could get to know what sparked Martin’s interest years ago and helped point him in the direction of his current path…
“My dad was a musician, so I kinda grew up in it. I started out as a drummer. My dad was a drummer, so I started that pretty young. I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. Then we moved from Alabama to Destin Florida for a few years. He was playing drums at this church there with a bunch of incredible musicians. One of the guitar players there was a guy named Shannon Wallace, and he just blew me away! That’s kinda what sparked the fire. Then a few years later, my dad had a Stevie Ray Vaughan greatest hits tape. I remember hearing that in his truck one day and I decided I had to start really playing guitar. I wanted to do that like those guys. I’m still trying!”
Having family members and family friends introduce us to the musician’s life at an early age almost always yields a fiercely passionate future musician. Seeing musicians work together right in front of you can be so very moving; definitely fuel for dreams!
So, once the fire was lit, what were those first bits of gear, first songs and song-writers, who helped stoke this flame?
“My first ‘real’ amp really inspired me early on. It was an early 70s Twin Reverb that someone had modified with a 15” JBL D-130f and maybe a few other things. I got it at a pawn shop for 300 bucks. It was like night and day from the little crappy bass practice amp I had been playing. Early on, the SRV stuff really got me, as well as Vince Gill’s stuff. Then I got a record of this friend of my dad’s, that he’d been in bands with, named Allen Hinds; it was just some next level stuff! Still is. Those guys along with Shannon Wallace, Brent Mason, and Brad Paisley, really have shaped and inspired my playing!”
Definitely an elite crew from which to draw inspiration; great picking, and even better song-writing for sure! Now we have the gear, and we have the motivation. So what did all of this lead to? Martin has been pursuing his own original music for a long time, with ambitions of being a successful song-writer and performer.
Obviously years of practice, grinding, and promoting himself must have gone into it, so I wanted to know some of the more exciting things all of this work has led to…
“I’ve been traveling around and playing music since I was about 15, so I’ve been very fortunate to tour and play festivals and shows with so many acts. We’ve played shows with Alan Jackson, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Gov’t Mule, Billy Currington, Eric Church, Zac Brown Band, Ronnie Milsap, and tons of others.”
Getting to tour alongside artists of this caliber is no small feat and definitely helps get your name out there. Also, if we’re being honest, it’s just extremely cool in every regard to play in front of those big crowds and get to stand on the same level as some of your heroes.
Martin works extremely hard, especially for a musician with a wife, a 2-year-old, and another baby on the way! He has been heavily focused, in recent years, on writing the best songs and making the best records he possibly can. He even has a new record coming out later this year that he says is his favorite stuff he’s ever done.
Be on the lookout for a new single at the end of January called, “Girls, Trucks, and Beer.”
But with all that hard work going on, I wanted to know if he ever hits any creative snags or lulls in his guitar-playing. And if so, how does he break through that sort of thing?
“It can definitely be a struggle, from time to time, to keep up with my guitar playing. I spend a lot of my days during the week writing songs. So it’s more about the lyrics and melodies, and less about my guitar chops. Sometimes I’ll get that lack of motivation from just working on music so much. But just putting on a good record with some killer guitar playing on it almost always gets me fired up to play again and work on it.”
Not a bad method at all. Oh, and Martin’s home setup is extremely conducive to creativity and productivity…
“As far as my at-home rig goes, I’m very fortunate to have a studio space at my house. I have access to pretty much all of my amps and things whenever I want. I have a pretty good collection of stuff! Haha. I’ve got old Hiwatts, Marshalls, Fenders, and several different boutique heads to choose from. I have a few cabs set up and mic’d in another room.”
Ahh, the spoils of the home-studio; this is truly the stuff of dreams and I can imagine it keeps a working musician moving forward through pretty much anything.
Well folks, that’s all the time we have today, but we want to thank Martin McDaniel for taking the time to share all of this with us. Be on the lookout for new music from Martin this year, you seriously won’t want to miss it. Maybe we’ll even talk him into coming down to NC to have a Warehouse Jam Session with us in the meantime…you’ll have to wait and see!