MEET SAMANTHA MARTIN: THIS TRUCK DRIVER’S DAUGHTER SINGS OF LOVE, LOSS, SIN AND REDEMPTION
True fact: Samantha Martin has only driven a truck once. She was six.
Her dad is one of the last pirates in North America – a long distance trucker who has, like Hank Snow, been everywhere, from Toronto to Tulsa, from Wawa to Waco and from Montreal to Memphis.
As a kid and as a teenager, Samantha was often in the shotgun seat. “Just once, with me sitting on his lap, he let me drive…” she laughs.
So trucking — and hard-driving country and blues-influenced music — is in Samantha’s blood. You can hear it in every note she sings: These are songs of love, loss, sin and redemption, and they’re aimed at your heart as well as your gut.
If that sounds like hype, check her debut CD, "Back Home", or the new self-titled EP, a simple foretaste of a new CD due early next summer.
Her band — aptly named The Haggard — is a three-piece unit that knows how to backup one of the most arresting figures on the southern Ontario alternative country circuit. The Haggard’s members, Mikey McCallum (lead guitars and harmonies), Greg Sweetland (bass) and Pete Lambert (drums and harmonies) give her all the power-packed support she needs.
Born in Edmonton, raised in rural Ontario and now based in Toronto, Samantha Martin also has a day job — she helps manage one of the hippest juke joints in the city, giving her a chance to hear bands like Lyle Lovett and Blue Rodeo, dozens of local players and groups, and offering her a place where her own music is warmly accepted by the club’s loyal clientele.
Her heroines — Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Ruth Brown, Etta James and Mavis Staples — have helped shape her whiskey-soaked voice as well as her music. She has an intimate sound, yet it’s powerfully strong at the same time; few artists can move the back wall of a club out a few feet like she can at full tilt — and soothe a full room with a quiet croon within the same song.
But it’s the material that demands attention as well as the voice. Her first CD, Back Home, was released in 2008 and she wrote all the songs. They range from the autobiographical “Trucker’s Daughter” (“The bug shield reads ‘No fixed address,’ that’s my daddy and that’s the way he’ll stay”) to “Devil and A Baby,” a song influenced by the godfathers of delta blues.
Since "Back Home" came out, Samantha Martin and The Haggard have played major festivals in Ontario — The Junction Arts Festival in 2008, Mariposa in 2009, and Summerfolk a year later. They’ve also played just about every honky-tonk in Toronto, and joints in half a dozen Ontario towns.
Now, with the new EP and an album well on the way to completion, she’s already pushing the boundaries of her songwriting, powerful music, and her tough and tender live shows.
Watch for Samantha Martin and The Haggard. This trucker’s daughter comes by her music honestly, and she shares it with a soulful integrity. She won’t be driving eighteen wheels to her next gig, but she wishes she could.