Artist bio: Lucas Martin

July 2010 /

It’s a red-dirt sound. That parched, wide-open kind of country that comes from nowhere but North Texas. A time-tested, both-boots-on-the-ground kind of music. One that usually has to be earned; the big reward that seems to ripen only after decades of slugging it out for rowdy oil field workers in sawdust honky-tonks from Amarillo to El Paso, getting paid in barbeque and Lone Star longnecks—if you’re lucky. But every once in a long while an artist emerges who seems to have been born with that dry Texas soul and fire already in him. Whose sun-warmed voice and stunning instrumental skills are enough to grab even the most jaded country fan and rattle them to their dusty core. Lucas Martin is just such an artist. And at only 20 years of age, he’s just getting started. Or so it might seem.

“I’ve been playing since I was 10, actually,” says Lucas, who learned to play guitar and sing while growing up in the Fort Worth area. “There was always music in my family, but what really got me was when my dad showed me a live Stevie Ray Vaughn DVD when I was 11. The way [Vaughn] wrangled that guitar was unlike anything I’d ever heard, just so unique.”

And so it was a short trip for Lucas from the rug in front of the DVD player to the stage. Before long he was leading his own bands, playing high-energy, virtuosic, blues-based rock and following the path of his hero, Stevie Ray, into legendary venues like Stubb’s and Antone’s. In 2004, at a mere 14, he recorded his first album, a self-titled, all-instrumental release that led to a feature article in Guitar Player magazine. “Lucas Martin has tone, chops, and passion for days,” raved Michael Molenda, the publication’s editor in chief. “He’s one of the young lions of the guitar community.” As Lucas continued to define himself as a must-hear guitar prodigy, the successes piled on at an ever-quickening pace. His 2005 sophomore disc, Cut Through the Chaos, landed a track in CNBC’s “American Made.” He racked up endorsements from guitar and equipment manufacturers, played the high-profile Austin Rockin’ Blues Festival and sold-out showcases at South by Southwest. He recorded with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees the Soul Stirrers, and appeared in the British TV documentary “I Got the Blues” alongside Mick Jagger, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, and Jimmie Vaughn. Eventually, however, Lucas began to feel himself being pulled in another direction, away from rock and the blues.

“I’d always played a little country, even when I was playing rock,” Lucas says. “So [transitioning full-time to country] was a gradual thing.” In 2007 he got serious about the change, woodshedding for eight months—“playing nothing but country licks”—and honing his vocal skills. The transformation was dramatic: The young musician had remade himself as a hot-pickin’ roots guitarist and a singer of soulful, earthy power. “I grew up with country music all around me, so it’s like coming back home,” says Lucas. “It suits my lifestyle for who I am now.”

Currently Lucas is working on his first album as a country artist, and it looks to be a stunner, rich with warm cuts that play like radio-ready comfort food for the soul: the nostalgic, steel-laced “It All Comes Back”; the moody, late-night “Buzzes Like Neon.” “I like songs that tell stories,” Lucas explains. “Songs that make good driving music.”

Lucas Martin has only recently set out on modern country’s endless, open highway. And it’s leading him straight into the hearts of country music fans everywhere.