Mick Martin Blues Rockers Biography
Voted six times as “Best West Coast Blues Band” by Real Blues magazine in Canada and three times as “Best Blues Band” in the Sacramento Area Music Awards (SAMMIES), becoming “Hall of Fame” inductees in Spring of 2001, Mick Martin Blues Rockers have released 12 CDs on Blues Rock Records. Their latest is “Tip of the Hat,” a tribute to British blues on DIG Music, selected by Blues Matters! Magazine in England as one of the best American blues releases of the year. America’s Blues Revue magazine called it, “Irresistible!” This follows the all-original “In One Ear,” which was released on Blues Rock Records in early 2001 simultaneously with “Blues Rock U.S.A.,” a two-CD retrospective culled from the band’s previous 10 releases. Veterans of three European tours and numerous music festival appearances, the members are:
On March 31, 1994, Mick Martin did something highly unusual for a harmonica player: performing at Carnegie Hall for the nationally broadcast “Blues in Jazz” concert with mentor Jimmy Smith, Jimmy Witherspoon, Grover Washington Jr., Carrie Smith and Mark Whitfield. That same year, he was also featured on Jimmy Smith’s Fantasy/Milestone Records release, “Sum Serious Blues.” Other CD guest spots on harmonica include “What’s Left Don’t Feel Right” by Kathleen Cairnes & Tattoo Blue, “Gone Wanderin’ ” by Jackie Greene (with the Blues Rockers), “Demonstration” by the Will Derryberry Band, the BluesExciter’s self-titled release and the anthology, “Sacramento Blues,” backing Johnny Heartsman on “Key to the Highway.” “As with Paul deLay and Norton Buffalo, Mick has a sound all his own,” says Dennis Newhall of DIG Music. Martin has also been an on-stage guest with Freddie King, Jimmy Rogers, Bo Diddley, Roy Brown, the Yardbirds and, most recently, Mick Taylor. “The concert with Mick Taylor has been circulated internationally on two different bootlegs. That’s a first for me!” he laughs. As a producer, he is credited with supervising “Sonny Boy Williamson in Europe,” “The Yardbirds: Clapton’s Cradle” (both for Evidence Music) and “Stoneground; The Last Dance” (for DIG Music). A blues disc jockey for 12 years, he hosts and produces “Mick Martin’s Blues Party” on KXJZ, Sacramento, KUOP, Stockton/Modesto and KKTO, Tahoe City/Reno. He is also co-author of the “DVD &Video Guide,” published annually by Ballantine Books.
As with his four collaborators in the Blues Rockers, Steve Schofer has been entertaining audiences for most of his life. With Martin in the mid-70s, he recorded “Orion Express,” one of the first independently released LPs in America. After a stint in the ’80s playing in Germany with a variety of bands, he returned to the States and joined Ray “Catfish” Copeland in Sacramento’s the Blue Flames (later The Fabulous Flames), which released “Rock ‘n Roll With a Whole Lot of Soul.” He was also instrumental in the formation of the internationally known version of Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers. Schofer has backed up a diverse group of musicians, including Johnny Johnson, Luther Tucker, Sonny Rhodes, Barry Melton, Arbess Williams, Johnny Heartsman and Sandy Nelson. In addition to playing bass, keyboards and singing harmonies in the Blues Rockers, he contributed the original song, “Brand New Day,” to “In One Ear.”
Lead guitarist Jim Papastathis is well known to Sacramento-area audiences for his work with the Bay Area Music Awards-winning Ian Shelter. Papastathis is also remembered for his guitar wizardry in other popular bands, such as Radio Flyer, the News (managed by industry titan, Herbie Herbert, a.k.a. blues singer Sy Klopps) and Gallup (whose songs were covered by Jefferson Starship on their platinum-award winning albums, “Spitfire” and “Dragonfly”). In Los Angeles, he’s better known as a much-in-demand session player, having recorded with members of Tom Petty’s band, America and Rita Ross (Diana’s sister). He has been on more recordings than he can remember during his years as a session player for Gwen Gordy’s Parkhill Studios. In the last few years, Papastathis has returned to his first love: playing the blues on stage. His most recent recording project was a self-titled CD by L.A.-based blues band, Johnny Neal and Bluesprint. “We wanted someone with his own style of playing guitar, not a clone of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins or some other legendary player,” says Mick Martin. “Jim’s playing is so full of emotion that it takes you away. I’m thrilled to have him.”
Drummer Bruce Pressley’s first “tour of duty” with Mick Martin & the Blues Rockers was in 1999, following the release of “Winning Hand” when their drummer of that time was under doctor’s care. It was all too brief, according to Martin. “Bruce is a drummer who can handle many styles. From blues shuffles to modern beats, he’s a chameleon, which is what we need. Our goal is to keep audiences entertained and make them want to get up and dance. Bruce has that ability.” Bruce is also known for his on-stage work and special-guest recordings with another SAMMIES Hall of Fame band, the ever-popular Beer Dawgs (1996-1998). “Bruce fit in so well during his short stint, I told him he’d always be a Blues Rocker,” Martin said. “Now, it’s permanent, and we couldn’t be happier.”