Thomas Martin is a Northern California Singer/Songwriter/Performer/Soundman/Recording Engineer whose career spans 50 years,beginning amid the Folk Music explosion of the early 60's. The Purple Onion, The Klink, The Drinking Gourd, The Holy City Zoo, The Gas Works, Runway 5, Chuck's Cellar, Bimbos 365 Club, The Bermuda Palms, The Los Gatos Old Town Theater, Horatio's, Spider Healey's, the Rusty Scupper, The Refectory, and Claxton's were among Bay Area venues presenting his eclectic mix of original, contemporary, and time honored songs. Recordings on the Fantasy Records and Runway 5 labels initiated his discography, continued most recently with five major releases on the BigWholeSounds label.
It all began with "The Rail Riders"; Billy King, Tommy Kinsella, and Thomas Martin, neighbors and relatives from the "Dickeyville" neighborhood of Chicago. Folk music was the rage, Olde Town was just getting established, and the Vietnam War was looming large on the horizon. After several local gigs, the trio disbanded as Thomas moved on to a stint in the USAF. His performing career continued at various Air Force facilities across the South, finally culminating in an assignment to Hamilton Field in Marin County. Early Bay Area appearances included "The Klink" on Market St, but the real action was happening in Sausalito at "The Gas Works" and on the half sunken Charles Van Damme, located at Gate 6, a weekly gathering place for would-be and actual folk singers. This vibrant scene eventually expanded to include "The Drinking Gourd" ( corner of Union and Laguna Sts. ) in SF. While appearing at "the Gourd", occasional concert opportunities provided encounters with Malvina Reynolds and Kate Wolf. During this period Fantasy Records produced an album which included five original compositions, soon followed by a 45 rpm record on the Runway Five label. A lenghthy engagement at "The Purple Onion" led to further appearances around The Bay, and around the country. Extensive touring brought engagements at The Vail Village Inn, Steamboat Springs, and The Grand Lake Resort in Colorado. A Great Lakes swing included opening for John Lee Hooker in Detroit, and performances in Milwaukee, Fon Du Lac, and Madison Wisconsin. Concert appearances in Marin included shows with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and The Youngbloods. Future engagements included a Ramblin' Jack Elliot concert on the Balclutha, two weeks of concerts with Bola Sete in Los Gatos, and a David Carradine concert in South Bend, Indiana. Early studio work included sessions with Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane, and Ronny Wells of The New Christy Minstrels. A booking at "The Rice Table" in Hanalei, Kauaii introduced the world of Hawaiian Music to this California folk musician, and the musical cross-pollination continues to this day. To facilitate a broader reach for his original material, Thomas built "Big Whole Sounds", a project studio and production house for presenting his own compositions. He also co-produced recording projects for Jim Caroompas, David Jones, Jack King, Stanley Won, and the "Archives" cd for Armandos of Martinez.