Never 'too old'

Craig Martin likes contemporary music, but old is what he knows and what he's been playing for the past 50 years.

"Just put 'old' in front of everything I do," the Ashland guitarist says. He also likes music that is funky and rootsy.

Martin plays old rock and R&B with his trio, Milestone; classic (just a fancy word for "old") rock and blues with the Roadmasters; old country with the Sidewinders; and old jazz, swing, bossa nova, country and blues with his wife, Beth Martin. He plays Delta blues, country and '20s and '30s jazz the second Thursday of each month at The Wild Goose Cafe and Bar.

For this invitation-only jam, Martin plays fingerstyle guitar with friends, including guitarist Boris Cummings, bassist Joe Cohoon, pianist Steven Lindley, pianist Dal Carver, harmonica player George Clark and pianist Bill Hahey, as well as with his family, Beth Martin on violin and fiddle and his daughter, Nancy Martin (Kites & Crows), on cello.

Craig Martin & Friends will play at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at the cafe, 2365 Highway 66, Ashland.

Martin calls music a career even though he's made his living teaching. He got his first instrument, a ukulele, when he was 12 years old and taught himself to play "My Old Kentucky Home."

In the '70s, he moved from Portland to Southern Oregon but kept at his music, playing whenever and with whomever he could.

In those days, a musician was paid about $50 a night, which, sadly, is about what they are paid today, Martin says. It might have been enough for a bachelor musician, but not one with a wife and two kids.

Martin picked up a job teaching music at John's Guitars and, later, first grade at Bellview Elementary School. Now that his kids are grown and gone, he works part time as a math specialist at Bellview and plays music with the rest of his time.

"It (music) is more than a hobby," he says. "It's a second career. It's super important to me, and I keep doing it for money, but I just can't make a living with it."

Martin uses his "music money" to grow his guitar collection. He owns 26 acoustic, electric, slide and bass guitars. Of those, he plays "an old, acoustic Martin that's just about my vintage" and a beat-up electric guitar, similar to a Fender Stratocaster, that he's had since '74.

Martin's monthly shows at The Wild Goose are free. Call 541-488-4103.

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