Marty Falle My Farm, My Bluegrass

Marty Falle – “My Farm, My Bluegrass” #1 APD Global Chart. “Ode to Ale 8” soars.

By Lee Zimmerman for Country Music News International Magazine

 

Marty Falle’s latest record, “My Farm, My Bluegrass” was released on August 28th and has been at #1 for 23 straight days on APD Global Top Bluegrass/Folk albums. Today, his single “Ode to Ale 8” entered the Top 5 on the Roots Music Contemporary Bluegrass Chart and placed the album at #11. “Ode to Ale 8” is tracking at #1 for the Bluegrass Jamboree Top 100 for September. iHeart Radio Bluegrass powerhouse “Rick Dollar Show” selected “Ode to Ale 8” as the #1 Bluegrass song in the nation.

 

All of this seems unlikely. Marty Falle is different than most artists. He has no backing from a record company, no PR representatives or team of writers feeding him choice songs. Marty is an independent that writes, performs and records all his own music. Marty believes in “old school” live tracking that focuses on capturing one take of passion and originality, rather than the perfect track.

 

History and heritage naturally go hand in hand, and the desire to preserve the former is generally maintained by preserving the latter. Singer, songwriter and musician Marty Falle knows that all too well. His connection to the traditional music of Appalachia was spawned from living in Appalachia and the places where bluegrass was born. He gets inspiration from his farm in Eastern Kentucky, and he’s thoroughly absorbed the music, culture and influences of that storied region, and in the process, made them his own.

A history major in college, it’s little surprise that actual events inform his songwriting. His most recent works — Kentucky Bluestar and its follow-up, My Farm, My Bluegrass — boast songs and stories about the people and places so essential to the evolution of what’s now referred to as Americana music in general, and bluegrass in particular.

 

Falle’s producer, Grammy winner Jonathan Yudkin, sums it up succinctly. “Marty seeks stories, history, legends, and paths in creativity… His fresh sound comes from the fact that he is not trying to emulate bluegrass bands of the past or present. Instead, he is creating his songs out of his love of music, unfettered by the influence of other artists. That’s what I enjoy the most about working with him. His songs are always unpredictable and surprising…”

 

That, then, is the essence of an artist who’s not only impacted by history and heritage, but one who effectively moves those foundations forward as well. He’s an Appalachian original and a dedicated contributor to Americana music in general.

 

Given that status, My Farm, My Bluegrass maintains that lingering legacy. The pundits agree. Both it and its predecessor, Kentucky Bluestar, reaped a remarkable amount of critical kudos that affirmed their impact early on. For example, the new album received a significant number of downloads from deejays worldwide. So too, within the first 48 hours of its release this past August, it successfully scaled the APD Global Radio Indicator Chart — a measure of all musical genres across the board — before quickly ascending to Number One where it remains even now. Out of the top ten singles on the APD Bluegrass Global Radio Indicator Chart, eight were spawned from My Farm, My Bluegrass.

 

Notably too, the album’s first single, “Ode to Ale 8,” was Number One on APD Global Radio Indicator Chart for Bluegrass singles on the first day of its release. It features six-time Female Bluegrass Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley, an artist who is clearly considered a pioneer and motivating force in the progression of modern bluegrass.

 

Falle engaged that legacy in the songs shared on Kentucky Bluestar and Virgin on the Bluegrass. “Renfro Valley Barn Dance,” “Shiloh,” “Bloody Coal, “Bootlegger,” “Appalachia River Song,” “Virgin on the Bluegrass,” “Revenuer Blues,” “Cherokee,” and “Kentucky Bluestar” effectively detail stories about the American heartland, bringing past to present. It too reaped any number of critical kudos in the process. The title track, and the album’s first single, was a Top Ten hit, debuting at Number Six on The Bluegrass Today Singles Chart. It then climbed to Number One on the Bluegrass Jamboree Top 100.

 

The album brought Falle some well-deserved attention and a public presence. This past June, he appeared on the cover of The Bluegrass Standard Magazine. Last April, he was spotlighted for a feature story in Bluegrass Today Magazine, in which he was cited as “an artist well worth your attention.” He was designated as Artist of the Month by prominent Ohio Bluegrass deejay Michelle Lee and also featured in an article in Country Music International in Europe. Germany’s CountryMusicNowInternational lauded him with its kudos after he hit Number One on its chart.

 

Still, the only way to move music forward is to first understand where it originated. Falle gained his initial impression of bluegrass while watching re-runs of “The Andy Griffith Show” as a child. It was there that he became enticed with a fictional band called the Darlings, portrayed by The Dillards, a group largely responsible for bringing bluegrass to the attention of a bigger audience through their own populist precepts. Falle’s interest was further spawned while living in Athens, Ohio, where he had opportunity to witness local musicians playing banjo, fiddle, mandolin and dobro at a local music store. After his job transferred him to Eastern Kentucky coal country soon after his graduation from Ohio University, he became a traveling law book salesman, and that’s when he was introduced to both bourbon — and bluegrass — in a rustic hamlet known as Renfro Valley.

Then again, the music that formed a cornerstone of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s had already become further ingrained in his consciousness. He recalls several boyhood heroes who unknowingly helped him develop his skills as a singer and songwriter.

 

He cites Crosby, Stills and Nash among them. “I would try to master all three harmonies, singing along to CSN he recalls. “I remember trying to learn Stephen Stills’ guitar part on ‘Suite Judy Blue Eyes’, and singing it with two buddies from my high school choir. “After practicing and memorizing that song, we took it to the high school talent show and performed it in front of the entire school.”

 

The influence of Chris Hillman and the Byrds also played a role in Falle’s ongoing interests. “I remember going to the Fur Peace Ranch Guitar Camp in Meigs County Ohio for a week, studying under Bill Kirchen, Chris Hillman and Jorma Kaukonen,” he notes. “I remember arriving at camp, and Jorma picking me up and taking me to his ‘guitar cottage’ where hundreds of guitars were stored. He let me pick out any guitar I wanted to use that week. I remember the anxiety of performing in front of Chris, Bill and Jorma on the last day of camp for the talent show. I performed ‘Friend of the Devil’ with two other campers in three-part harmony. The entire time I was thinking of Jerry Garcia writing and playing Workingman’s Dead, Jorma’s Hot Tuna and Chris’ Flying Burrito Brothers and Manassas, and then wondering what they would think.”

 

The Eagles were also a source of fascination, and Falle admits that there were times he’d attempt to emulate Glenn Frey. However, there were other major influences as well. “When I transitioned to country music, it was all about Dwight Yoakum,” he insists. “I wore out Guitars, Cadillacs. I covered every song. I absorbed the Bakersfield sound, which included, of course, the music of Buck Owens. I still love to listen to his stuff.”

Those indelible influences helped set the stage for the music he made when he went to Nashville and met Jonathan Yudkin, the man who eventually became Falle’s producer. Together, they recruited a list of musical collaborators who also play a role in the continuum of modern American music. In addition to Falle (vocals, harmonies and guitar) and Yudkin (fiddle and mandolin), they include Carl Miner (guitar), Michael Bub (acoustic bass), Rob Ikes (dobro), Josh Matheny (dobro, lap steel, mandolin), Matt Menefee (banjo), and Tim Carter (banjo). In addition, Marty Slayton (George Strait), Kim Parent (Brooks and Dunn), and Marcia Ramirez (Patty Loveless) contribute backing vocals. Dale Ann Bradley shares lead vocals on “Ode to Ale 8”, “Chimney Letters” and “Praise the Lord and Pass the Gravy.” The album’s cover art was the work of Disney artist, TJ Matousek.

The music itself reminds us that the present would not exist without the past. Although all the songs are originals, they pull from the stylistic strands of the Irish, Scottish and English folk music which found its way into American country and mountain music, courtesy of the early settlers who made their way to Appalachia and originated the music we know as Americana today.

 

The new album boasts several examples of Falle’s ability to bring past to present, and then forward towards the future. “Kentucky Sons of Ireland” and “Appalachia Irish Dance” form a bond to bluegrass’s early beginnings, sharing a spirited sentiment through an upbeat and exuberant approach. The archival sounds of “Kentucky Proud” share the pride of those who still live in those storied environs and helped make them what they are today. The lively “Big Barn Breakdown” evokes the sound of the gatherings that took place after the farm work was done and joy and jubilation gave cause for celebration.

 

Spirituality plays its role as well. “Praise the Lord and Pass the Gravy” and “Bluegrass Holy Land Breakdown” convey a sense of dedication and devotion that’s also found on the moving and memorable track “The Calling.” Falle quotes scripture, specifically Philippians 3:14, which inspires the faithful to press on towards finding the fulfillment that comes with worshiping the Lord. “It’s the core of my spiritual beliefs and what I am trying to achieve,” Falle says.

 

Indeed, moving forward is what Falle is all about. He’s a pioneer in his own way, and it’s his passion and purpose that helps ensure bluegrass will resonate and remain relevant for decades to come.

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