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Martha Scanlan


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Released: Jan 1, 2009

General Info

  • Genre: Acoustic / Alternative / Roots Music

    Location Southeastern, Montana, United States

    Profile Views: 76293

    Last Login: 1/15/2012

    Member Since 4/18/2006


    Record Label Sugar Hill Records

    Type of Label Indie

  • Bio

    Martha Scanlan has been touring and headlining festivals across the U.S. and Europe since the release of her critically acclaimed Sugar Hill debut, The West Was Burning. Her newest project, Tongue River Stories, is a collection of songs about belonging and place. It comes out of her recent relative hiatus from the road, where she has been immersed in living and working on a hundred year-old ranch in the southeast corner of Montana, one of the last and truest strongholds of a uniquely American cowboy culture. Martha first gained national recognition for her songwriting at the prestigious Chris Austin songwriting contest at Merlefest in 2004, where she won awards in two categories. With the Reeltime Travelers, she was featured on the sound track for the film Cold Mountain, produced by Grammy Award winner T-Bone Burnett. Since then she has collaborated and shared the stage with a variety of roots musicians including Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Ollabelle, Black Prairie, Ralph Stanley and Norman and Nancy Blake. Her song "Little Bird Of Heaven", was recently featured in celebrated American novelist Joyce Carol Oates' latest book by the same name. Martha Scanlan's first solo album, The West Was Burning, featuring production by gifted multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell and spirited performances by Levon Helm (of The Band) and Amy Helm, was met with critical acclaim: "A revelation, an instant classic and one of those rare albums that defies genre and generation. Scanlan evokes western landscapes as effectively as Georgia O'Keefe did on canvass." - Dirty Linen "We're told that this is the first solo album by Martha Scanlan, but such is the cool assurance and earthy authority of these performances, it could well be her sixth or tenth collection. Projecting a sense of isolation that is as powerful as its sense of place — the pull of the landscape is ever-present — it's the kind of work that can be haunting and comforting at the same time." - No Depression Generally when an artist receives the kind of critical acclaim that Martha Scanlan did for her solo debut, the normal course of action is a quick follow up to build on the success of the first. "Well, it didn't quite work out that way," Martha says with a easy laugh from her cabin on the small family ranch in Southeastern Montana where she has been living and working for the last three years, immersed in a cowboy culture running four and five generations deep. Martha Scanlan's Tongue River Stories is well worth the wait, a stunning and stark portrait of one of the last truest vestiges of the west, and somehow a natural progression from The West Was Burning. Where The West Was Burning may have evoked western landscapes, Tongue River Stories takes the listener deep into the heart of the landscape itself; the meadows and cottonwood groves and decades-old cabin where the songs were written and recorded, a world so vast and quiet that such on-site recording is possible. Songs for this project were born out of a landscape where arrowheads lie next to fossils next to hundred-year-old cedar fence posts alongside tracks of horses set rock solid in the mud from the last good rain. Stories inside of stories inside of stories. "I wanted to bring musicians out to record these songs in the place they were written, and hand picked musicians who I knew would be open to the wonder of the place and the experience, whose musical abilities would allow them to capture the sense of movement and flow and vastness that is at the heart of the place and the work and the songs themselves." Stories inside of stories inside of stories. The gift of a great storyteller is the bringing of the listener into the story, and the story into the listener. It's not just the words of the songs in this collection that provide that rare lasting transformative alchemy that has become so characteristic of Martha Scanlan's work, and earned her the small loyal cult following that seems to be steadily growing. It's the space between the words, the sound of the place itself. Here Martha pauses. "This place took me in. I wrote because I needed to write. These songs are stories that this place told me." Tongue River Stories Autumn is available for download at itunes and Amazon. Recording sessions on the ranch feature Jon Neufeld (acoustic guitar), Byron Isaacs (bass, drums), Aaron Youngberg (pedal steel) and Erin Youngberg (bass, vocals). The recording session for Autumn was filmed by award winning documentary film maker Dawson Dunning, fifth generation himself from one of these old ranching families, and videos are now available on youtube, 3 Bears Media, and For more information please visit .. .. Reviews:.. .. ..Acoustic Guitar.. .. .. ..Roots Music Project.. .. .. ..Pop Matters.. .. .. ..Anchorage Daily News.. .. ............Myspace Layouts.. - ..Myspace Editor.. - ..Image Hosting....
  • Members

    Martha Scanlan (guitar, vocals) Jon Neufeld (guitar, vocals) with special guests: Amy Helm on drums and mandolin, Byron Isaacs on bass and lap steel, Dirk Powell on everything...
  • Influences

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  • Sounds Like

    ...... .. .. .. .. ..........View Album........Get your own...... Got a great photo or video of Martha to add to this site? Email it to ..Martha's Pictures .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..


  1. Martha Scanlan

    Playing a show in Boise, ID at 8:00 PM today at The Knitting Factory

  2. Martha Scanlan

    New show announced in Boise, ID at The Knitting Factory on January 27, 2012

    Goad Cassaundra liked this.

  3. Martha Scanlan

    New Tour Dates With Blind Pilot, Levon Helm, National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.....

  4. Martha Scanlan

    Playing a show in White Sulphur Springs, MT at 1:00 PM today at Red Ants Pants Music Festival

  5. Martha Scanlan

    Playing a show in White Sulphur Springs, MT at 1:00 PM today at Jackson Ranches


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The haunting quality of Martha Scanlan's voice, unique perspective and poetic imagery of her songs helped to gain national acclaim for the innovative old-time stringband, Reeltime Travelers. In their six years of touring they played some of America's most prestigious venues and festivals from the Grand Old Opry to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

After catching the attention of Grammy-winning producers T-Bone Burnett and Bob Neuwirth, the group recorded a cut for the soundrack to Cold Mountain and were featured on the Great High Mountain Tour along with Alison Krauss, Ralph Stanley, and other artists from the Oh Brother Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain soundtracks.

Martha's songwriting frst gained national attention in 2003 at the prestigious Merlefest Chris Austin Songwriting Contest where a panel of judges including Gillian Welch and Jim Lauderdale awarded her first and second place in the bluegrass and country music categories for "Little Bird of Heaven" and "Hallelujah".

She is currently on tour with brothers Travis and Trevor Stuart, who are widely considered among the best of Western North Carolina's new generation of Appalachian musicians. Their deep roots in tradition and remarkable ability to lend that depth to new sounds creates an extraordinary sense of timelessness; a perfect compliment to songs rooted in tradition but reflective of an ever-changing cultural landscape.

Martha's debut solo project is produced by and features Dirk Powell along with Levon Helm, Riley Baugus, and Amy Helm and Glenn Patscha from the band Ollabelle. It is due out February 13, 2007 on Sugar Hill Records. When not on the road she divides her time between the mountains of East Tennessee and those of Western Montana.


Acoustic Guitar

Roots Music Project

Pop Matters

Anchorage Daily News ..

MySpace Layouts
Myspace Layouts - Myspace Editor - Image Hosting

Member Since:

April 18, 2006


Martha Scanlan (guitar, vocals) Travis Stuart (old time banjo, bass, guitar) Trevor Stuart (fiddle, mandolin) With a variety of special guests: Rose Sinclair on steel, banjo and accordion, Amy Helm on drums and mandolin, Glenn Patscha on Piano, Dirk Powell on everything...


Sounds Like:

Got a great photo or video of Martha to add to this site? Email it to Martha's Pictures

Record Label:

Sugar Hill Records

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