How much does Greg Martin buy into the lasting fascination of the vinyl record? Well, when we caught up with the mainstay guitarist of the Kentucky HeadHunters, he was killing time in Bowling Green while an on-the-fritz turntable was being tended to at a repair shop.
“I was playing Jo Jo Gunne on it last night and it froze up on me.” But before heading home to Glasgow, he was contemplating one more stop.
“I’ve got a friend who runs a used record store. I’m thinking of stopping by just to see what he picked up today.”
Such remarks reveal two traits – a devotion to late ’60s/early ‘70s guitar-centric rock (Jo Jo Gunne was the ‘70s spinoff of the great ‘60s band Spirit) which abounds in the playing Martin has injected onto recordings by the HeadHunters over the last 25 years, and an equal love of the vinyl records, stereos and all things that made rock ‘n’ roll, literally, go around.
Both elements come into play with two area HeadHunters performances on Saturday. The first will be an abbreviated in-store performance at CD Central in honor of Record Store Day, the annual celebration of the vinyl format and the indie retail outlets that still honor it. The second will be a full length, arena sized headlining concert at Frankfort Convention Center – the second in a series of benefit shows for the Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund.
“We all grew up with the vinyl record,” Martin said of himself and fellow HeadHunters Richard Young, Fred Young and Doug Phelps. “And we all grew up going to various indie record stores in our youth. We know the importance of the indies staying alive.
“I still have a huge CD collection, but I also never got rid my original vinyl. Being a musician back in the day, that was the way I figured out how to play songs and figured out Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton stuff. I bet I’ve got about 10 receivers and about three turntables hooked up at home.”
Word of Martin’s vinyl obsession has gotten out at home, too. He said he just acquired an LP copy of Moby Grape’s 1968 Wow/Grape Jam album from, of all people, his chiropractor.
“I’m going to listen to all of that tonight when I get home.
“When you get back into listening to vinyl, when you take the record out of the cover carefully, look at all the liner notes… it’s just a great experience. It’s about sitting back, listening to music and enjoying it. It’s art.”
The HeadHunters will be one five bands performing at CD Central on Saturday. The complete lineup features Shawnthony Calypso (12:30 p.m.), The Kentucky HeadHunters (1:30 p.m.), Warren Byrom and the Fabled Canelands (2:30 pm), Vegan Death (3:30 pm) and Summer Smoke (4:30 p.m.).
As always, with Record Store Day comes the single-day release of dozens of collectible vinyl recordings by all manner of major label and indie artists, from The Animals to Young the Giant.
What Record Store Day release is Martin eyeing especially?
“The vinyl reissue of Little Games by The Yardbirds. I’m just an addict when it comes to this stuff – just over the top crazy.”
The Kentucky HeadHunters perform a free set at 1:30 p.m. April 19 at CD Central, 377 S. Limestone for Record Store Day. Call (859) 233-3472 or go to www.cdcentralmusic.com. The band will also headline a 6 p.m. concert at April 19 at Frankfort Convention Center, 405 Mero St. in Frankfort with Borrowed Blue opening. Tickets are $20. Call (502) 564-5335 or go to www.guardmemorial.com.