Martha Healy: Glasgow Walking Tour Guest Blog
Like many festivals in this strangest of years, the wonderful Glasgow Americana Festival is taking the live music online with an excellent line-up of country songwriting talent from home and away, including the luminous Laura Cantrell, hometown heroine Jill Jackson, the fertile transatlantic partnership of Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith, Robert Vincent – the Scouse Springsteen – and former Grand Drive frontman Danny George Wilson.
The traditional songwriters’ circle will also take place via the magic of Zoom, featuring Colorado’s David Starr, Edinburgh-based Al Shields and the Glasgow-born, Balfron-based Martha Healy, who recorded her 2018 album, Keep the Flame Alight in Nashville and launched it at that year’s Glasgow Americana Festival.
Martha has blogged for us before, and we caught up with her again to hear her thoughts on the pros and cons of lockdown and her plans for the future.
On one hand, lockdown has been the most unsettling time of my life: the not knowing what’s around the corner, the uncertainty, the cancellation of so many gigs and festivals I was booked to play – all of these elements were initially difficult to make sense of. For the first month or so, I just spent time trying to get my head around financial stuff and what was actually happening in the world. I wasn’t inspired to write anything, I was all out of anything creative.
I did, however, in time, teach myself some new skills and made a video for a song called ‘We Will Be Okay’ which also featured on my last album. I felt it was a message I wanted to send, even if it was only to my friends and followers on my mailing list.
Undeniably, the hardest part has been the pain so many people have been through all over the world. All of the other stuff, like gigs, can be rescheduled but what’s most important right now is our universal well-being and our health.
On the other hand, there have been some lovely things happening during the lockdown, which may not have happened otherwise. I started writing on Zoom with some songwriter friends, including Ben Glover, an Irish musician based in Nashville. I was hooked up, through the Americana Music Association UK, with a songwriter in Austin, Texas called BettySoo and we have also been writing together. I took part in an online Facebook writing challenge over five days and also did internet gigs live from my living room.
I have also started presenting my own country radio show on a new DAB station, The Max. The show goes out every Saturday evening from 6-10pm and it’s been nerve-wracking turning my hand to presenting. However, getting to listen to the best country and Americana music is a great way to spend a Saturday evening.
If nothing else, it’s shown me I can be resilient and stubborn enough to create – in spite of all the challenges right now!
Right now, I am writing for my next album and I am really excited to be taking part in the 2020 Glasgow Americana Festival. It’s all taking place online this year and the organiser, Kevin Morris, always puts on a fantastic line-up of artists. On Friday 2nd October, I will be doing a “virtual song circle” with my good friends, David Starr and Al Shields. We have played together live for three years so we are really excited to be able to link up via Zoom. They are such talented songwriters and singers and I think it will be great to have some musical connection again.
So much of what we do as musicians is about connection. We aren’t meant to disconnect and not see people. I feel the music industry has taken a massive hit with the lockdown rules and I just hope we are all able to go back and perform safely. I will never take that for granted ever again.
Glasgow Americana Festival runs online from 1st-4th October. Tickets are available from http://www.glasgowamericana.com/
Listen to Martha presenting Max Country on The Max on DAB, maxradio.co.uk