“… an acoustic masterpiece …”

The album ‘Indestructible’ by Flav Martin is what I would call an acoustic masterpiece. It is so well written that it is worth talking about each song individually. The album starts off with the song ‘Nothing For Nothing’, and you just need to listen to the intro to understand that this guy clearly knows what he’s doing. This song not only leads you into the album naturally and shows you just how skilled Flav Martin really is, it is also recorded and mixed to the highest standards of todays music industry. I love the bluesy vibe this song has and the organ sounds. The second song is called ‘Three Wishes’ and the acoustic guitar work on this track is top notch. No wonder he opened for artists such as Tommy Emmanuel. The third track is called ‘Indestructible’ and this song sounds more serious, and deeper than the previous ones. What also stands out here is the percussion work on the acoustic guitar. There is a lot of very advanced muting, tapping and chord progressions going on that are very hard to play, especially if you are singing at the same time. ‘Wild Moon’ is a beautiful love song that has hints of country in it, which shows just how versatile Flav Martin really is. ‘Colors’ features once again amazing acoustic guitar work and the way the guitar works with the bass, drums and all the other instruments here is just perfect. The track after that is called ‘Soul Redemption’ and not only features an amazing acoustic guitar, but also incredible electric guitar riffs on top of that. The lead guitar does a fantastic job in this track and really compliments the vocals. But not only the guitars are special about this artist; his warm vocals and rich tone are just as impressive. The seventh song is called ‘Figure It Out’, and this song really rocks and the bluesy lead guitar will blow you away. Especially the melodic solo is very well done here. Listening to the next song called ‘Outta Here’ makes me realise that this is an album that just gets better and better the further you get into it. A lot of artists lose it after the first few songs and fill the rest of their album with fillers, but Flav Martin has hit after hit on this record with no filler whatsoever. ‘Light The Spirit’ is a light-hearted song that is easy to listen to and lifts you up. I love the ‘wah wah’ effect of the guitar in the background. The second to last song is called ‘Laura’s Theme’, and it features a breath-taking acoustic guitar performance that you have to listen to more than once to really appreciate what is going on. The album ends with the track ‘Drinking You’, and I love it when an album ends with a powerful song like this. It shows all the good sides of Flav Martin and it certainly makes you want to listen to the whole album all over again, which is exactly how it should be. Not only is the instrumental work amazing, the lyrics are also really well written and sung, especially the line ‘You’re my wine and I’m drinking you tonight’ is genius and I can’t believe no one else has come up with these amazing lines yet.

All in all I can only recommend this album for anyone who is into acoustic music and quality song-writing. It is very rare to hear such sophisticated guitar playing combined with this level of song-writing, and therefore this definitely deserves 5 out of 5 stars!

Media reviews:

“The mighty Flav Martin, an incendiary acoustic whizzbanger guitarist from Westerly, RI. He’s able to play guitar parts while mimicking bass and percussion at the same time. Martin’s recent CD includes jaw-dropping guitar work and witty, memorable songwriting … You gotta see this guy”  – Rick Massimo, The Providence Journal

”Best of New Haven  … part folkie, part classical guitarist, part rock rebel, part studio production wizard, sometimes soloist, sometimes band member, always entertaining and always enlightening.” Chris Arnott, New Haven Advocate

“Transcends definition with well-played spices of Folk, Rock, and Funk … if someone with musical sensibilities doesn’t sign him the business is in worse shape than I thought.”  – Fran Fried, New Haven Register  

”Monster players and songs, the band [Arrowhead] had people dancing on the tables…”  A. Zito, Hip Magazine

“Michael Hedges meets Chet Atkins … Martin has gained certain mastery of a very percussive playing technique resulting in a unique brand of Folk with deeply soulful lyrical musings.”  Jim Vickers, The Westerly Sun


“Flav is able to weave blissful hooks and catchy choruses with speed, harmonics and percussion, seemingly from another planet … a singer-songwriter, guitarist extraordinaire.” – William Lord, Westerly This Week


“Finger-picker Flav Martin weighs in with this five-song EP, recorded at the Dining Room and represented by the Wellspring Media Group out of Westerly. Martin, an incredibly dexterous guitar player, complements his playing with a gruff, romantic folk voice a la Cliff Eberhardt. “Colors,” the opening track, features Martin comfortably alone with his acoustic, as does “With You.” Both have Kottke-esque intros before plunging into more conventional folk-pop fare. “Not What It Seems,” “Chameleon,” and “Boundaries” have more fully fleshed-out arrangements, and while they have a sweet, Dave Mason-type quality to them, the solo acoustic tunes have a more visceral sense of style and hit their target more directly.” Bob Gulla, The Providence Phoenix 


Flav’s music has also been acclaimed by the industry professionals and some very well-known celebrities:

David Crosby — “Excellent material and player!”

David Santaniello — Executive with Sony/Columbia — “A tour de force … packed with talent!”

Tommy Emmanuel — “Great stuff! I was jammin’ along with him on the side of the stage.”

Chad and Jeremy — “Flav is the 21st century’s Richie Havens.”

Tina Schafer –– Bitter End Songwriters Circle-“The real deal!”

Bruno Kirby — (Actor: “The Godfather “Good Morning Vietnam”) — “Lookin’ forward to the next Flav Martin concert!”

John Cusack — (Actor “High Fidelity,” “Better Off Dead,” “Runaway Jury,” “Identity”) — “Very cool! And unusual … best of The Bitter End!'”

Gene Simmons, KISS — “A fantastic player”

Tom Mazza, Executive at Paramount, producer of “Cheers” — “Terrific songwriter.”

Al Stewart (“Year of the Cat”) — “Fantastic — we created magic!”

Pete Best — “Terrific!”

Margie O’Brien – NBC-affiliated Morning Show Co-Anchor — “Incredibly unique”

Ken Stroebel, The Norwich Bulletin — “On the fast track!”

Kristina Dorsey, The New London Day — “Progressive and entertaining”

Chris DiPaolo, Program Director WBLQ 96.9FM — “Incomparable!”


And comments posted on message boards:

Acoustic Guitar Magazine Message Board Post on Flav Martin  –Acoustic Guitar Magazine Online

Flav Martin has more of a milder Michael Hedges style but with more emphasis on the singer songwriter side.
… I will say this however, this guy can bang out those tapping harmonics on the fret board like no one else I’ve seen…

Guitarist Flav Martin, Rhode Island’s Best Kept Secret, Is A Legend In The Making

By Megan Pillow (Associated Press) Huffington Post, Westerly Sun

Everyone at Vetrano’s knows Flav Martin. When he walked into the restaurant on Monday night, he was greeted by a resounding chorus, not unlike the greeting that always heralded the arrival of George Wendt’s character “Norm” on Cheers. Martin, however, whose full name is Flavio Martinelli, is not your average deadbeat bar hound.

On the contrary, Martin is an accomplished songwriter, guitarist, screenwriter, and bar stool philosopher, a man who has offered his talents to the community again and again. In concert is an opportunity to witness a man who has taken hard knocks and transformed them into a percussive style of play that has established his reputation as one of Rhode Island’s most respected musicians.

Martin, however, would be the first person to wave aside that illustrious title. On Monday, he sat at a corner table in Vetrano’s, eating pasta fagioli and laughing with the owner, Pasquale Illiano. For a moment, it was easy to see how one might mistake him for just another customer. Martin is unassuming, genuine, the kind of man who slaps your back when he laughs, the kind of man who offers a firm handshake and a ready smile.

Yet, there is a bit of the eccentric about him that invites further investigation: the tousled hair, the scholarly wire-rimmed glasses, and the low, melodic voice which seems to hint at something out of the ordinary. This, you think, is a man that you’d like to get to know.

What you discover in conversation is quite extraordinary. Martin’s appearance is more than just hype; the man is witty, contemplative. He spoke with eloquence about Italy, talked of the cycle of artistry with profound, uncomplicated insight. He told the history of his family with the tongue of a born storyteller, and yet he was remarkably self-effacing. Of his music, he says, “I tap a lot, bang a lot…I’m a circus act, the sideshow guy.”

But Flav Martin is much more than a gimmick. He is a musician with a sense of history. Music is in his blood; his great uncle was the famous Italian opera star Giovanni Martinelli, and he spent his youth listening to his brother, Larry Martinelli, practice in their basement with a band led by schoolmate Gene Klein, who later took the name Gene Simmons. That band, of course, became known as KISS.

Martin tells the story of his life as if it is a Dickens novel: his childhood took him from Queens to Manhattan to New Jersey, from a city of 8 million people to a town of 1,800. His father died young, his mother worked long hours, and so he spent most of his childhood with his grandfather, a stonemason, and his grandmother, a cook.

His description of his career as a musician is almost draconian, a series of near-misses and just-shy-of successes that seem, at times, laden with regret: at age 18, he tried unsuccessfully to give a demo tape to John Lennon in a Manhattan restaurant. Despite a burgeoning career, he took a hiatus when his daughter was born; even though he was opening for people like Tommy Emmanuel, David Crosby, and Suzanne Vega, even though he had opportunities to write music for well-known shows, even though he was surrounded by colleagues and friends who rose to success, he has yet to hit the big time.

“Everyone around me is getting worldly and famous and here I am,” he said, and shrugged. Most telling, he said, is what was once written about him in the Village Voice; the title of the review is one he seems to consider the most apropos description of his career: “Almost Famous,” the article proclaimed.

Martin’s music, however, tells an entirely different story than his words. In the middle of Vetrano’s, he pulls out his guitar, a Kona acoustic that is pale as smoke. He closes his eyes and begins to play. In a moment, the restaurant is quiet; although the music is not loud, it commands attention.

In Martin’s hands, the Kona becomes a dance partner, a drum. In his hands, the guitar becomes not the weapon that some musicians wield carelessly, but instead a deft tool, an instrument driven by purpose and need to create something worthy.
The music of Flav Martin is the antithesis of what the man says about himself; it is not self-effacing, nor regretful. It is music of clarity and vision. It is powerful, with the depth of an entire orchestra and with a complex history at its core. Beneath every note is the heat of rejection, and fatherhood, and lust, and grief; the music is driven by a confluence of emotion and intellect. His lyrics are remarkably simple, even austere; they are the story that someone tells you across the dinner table over a cup of coffee, the words that someone whispers in your ear before sleep.

It is the dichotomy of simplicity and complexity, this power to silence a crowd that sets Flav Martin apart from the other “almost famous” musicians in the world. These traits are not the mark of the obscure or the flash in the pan. They are, in fact, the mark of the Bob Dylans and the Tommy Emmanuels, the Jack Kerouacs of song, the modern troubadours who further their craft sometimes in the limelight, and sometimes behind the curtain. In this class of musician, we cease to speak of fame, because it no longer matters. Instead, we begin to speak of legends.


(An Acoustic Evening with Al Stewart)

It is rare to see a musician step onto a stage with someone he barely knows, let alone someone he’s not played with in the past, and make it work. But when you have a prodigious talent like acoustic guitarist Flav Martin facing the task, you can be sure he will master it.

He recently sat in with Folk legend AL STEWART, who invited Flav to accompany him on two songs during his show. How much rehearsal did they get, you wonder? Oh, they just “made it work during sound check…” But the audience would never know it.

Martin accented Stewart’s lively performance beautifully, importing his own flavor, even though he was sitting in. Flav Martin is a virtuoso.

Flav, a Westerly, Rhode Island-based guitarist, composer, and recording artist, possesses one of the most adaptable musical ears I have ever witnessed: adding texture and global flavors to his overlays. If his infusion of Spanish, Russian, and Middle Eastern modal qualities in his embellishments were not enough, his interpretation was nothing short of masterful.

He knew, almost intuitively, when to come in, when to lay out; when to drive, and when to add subtlety. His rich background in Rock, Folk, and Acoustic Pop shined forth and his in-person meekness was quickly surpassed by his technical and artistic wizardry. Flav Martin is one to watch.

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