Top Songs

Singles & EPs


About Carl Martin

Carl Martin was born near Stone Gap, VA, on April 1, 1906. His main instrument was mandolin but he also mastered the guitar, and according to those who saw him perform, could play anything with strings. Martin not only performed solo, but also spent much of his career in a trio featuring Ted Bogan (guitar) and Howard Armstrong (violin). The trio enjoyed a career that spanned five decades and was known under several different monikers, including the Four Keys, the Tennessee Chocolate Drops, and the Wandering Troubadours. Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong initially traveled all over the south entertaining at medicine shows, county fairs, and on the radio. When they couldn't get an actual paying gig, they would play for tips in local taverns. In the late '30s, they followed the great migration to Chicago where they would eventually go their separate ways, occasionally playing together. In the ensuing years, Martin would benefit greatly from playing for the diverse ethnic crowds spread out over countless neighborhoods in Chicago, developing a repertoire of blues, jazz, pop, country, and even non-English songs. Following years of playing solo, Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong reunited in the early '70s and played the folk and blues festival circuit all over the country. Luckily, a few discs remain in print that trace Martin's long career from the '30s to his final sessions before he passed away in Pontiac, MI, on May 10, 1979. ~ Al Campbell

Big Stone Gap, VA
1 Apr 1906

Similar Artists