JPR Live Session: Anna Tivel/Jeffrey Martin

Jun 23, 2016

Entranced by the sound of her grandfather’s violin, Anna Tivel started learning in the first grade and never put it down. In 2006, she moved to Portland, muddled through college, and started waiting tables and playing some fiddle on the side. Jeffrey Martin was born in San Antonio, Texas. While he’s been writing songs since he was in high school, he didn’t begin touring until 2010 when a few chance opening gigs fell his way. Before he ever slept out of his car for music, he enjoyed sleeping out of his car all over the country just for the sake of traveling— so the anti-glamourous lifestyle of a touring singer-songwriter suited him well. 

Raised among the ferns and the farmland of Northern Washington, Anna Tivel loved words long before they became the backbone of her music. “My sister, my mom and I would go to our little town library with a rolling suitcase and fill it to bursting,” she remembers, “we’d read in the car, in the bath, under the covers late at night, always piles of books, always music playing, from Paul Simon to Dylan, from The Kingston Trio to Itzaak Perlman.

Her new album, titled Heroes Waking Up, brings a batch of songs to the table recorded mostly live and mixed to tape at Fluff and Gravy Studios. The intention was to capture these songs in their most naked form, before multiple rehearsals and repetition had a chance to smooth over the edges. The result is a warm and honest record that allows Anna’s songwriting to be at the forefront.

Since 2010, Jeffrey Martin has criss-crossed the country with his songs, a few times in an old Isuzu Trooper, and once in a Toyota Camry with which he pulled a homemade wooden teardrop camper. And on all occasions he ha​s​ his faithful road companion, a yellow lab named Ben. ​ As often as he can he tours with Tivel who backs him on fiddle and mandolin. When asked whether he considers himself a musician or a songwriter first Martin had this to say:  “I’m a writer more than I am a musician. If I could play guitar half as well as I can write I’d be wearing nicer pants.”

Martin's music has been likened to the styles of Josh Ritter, John Gorka, and Joe Pug. He grew up on Dylan’s Blood On the Tracks and Young’s Harvest and he remembers when his dad took him to see Leo Kottke and how he was thrown into a trance by the speed of his picking.