Musician Martha Bassett Branches Out With Elkin Shows, New CD
Martha Bassett has been making music in the Triad and beyond for over 20 years. And there's lots of excitement surrounding Bassett right now. She’s settled into a regular gig, The Martha Bassett Show, at the renovated Reeves Theater in Elkin, performing with her own band and welcoming a roster of national and local artists. And Bassett is about to release a new album, Hot Pepper Queen.
Martha Bassett joined Neal Charnoff in the WFDD studios to talk about how things are going.
On her residency at the Reeves Theater:
When Debbie Carson and Chris Gruner first bought the theater about four years ago, five years ago now, they contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in doing some regular program. And we just started dreaming, and when the theater opened last year we started the Martha Bassett Show, which is a musical variety show. We have three guests per show. My band is the backup for our guests as well as doing our own music. And there's a lot of collaboration between all the artists.
On the Reeves Theater restoration:
It is so beautiful. They have restored it with great love, and they are like a family. The staff, even the sound people, everybody who works there had a hand in the renovation of this theater, and it is such a source of pride for the town of Elkin. So the community is really behind them and it just feels good to be in that space.
On creating The Martha Bassett Show and co-producing the Reeves Theater shows:
It's been a big learning curve for me. I'm an artist, and now I'm in the role of presenter as well as being an artist. So in one way I feel like I have an advantage because I do understand hospitality — what artists need for hospitality. And I do my best to really excel at that and set us apart.
I think what has really impacted me the most as an artist is that I'm seeing how isolated we all are. I have been in this community for a long time, and there are a lot of people that I know, but there are people that I don't know because I'm always playing. So I don't get to hear other people play, and vice versa. So this has given me the opportunity to bring people in and actually work with them every single month.
On the song and album title, Hot Pepper Queen:
Sarah Howell-Miller, who plays keyboards and percussion and sings, wrote this song, and a couple of years ago our band did a little tour through Ohio, and we were playing at this festival where we witnessed a hot wing eating contest that was a little scarring.
And Sarah wrote this song as kind of a bringing up an old memory, and I don't like hot foods at all. I'm quite the gringo. And so she thought it would be funny for me to sing "Hot Pepper Queen."
But as part of our merchandising for this record we went back to the company that was sponsoring that wing eating contest and had them make us a signature sauce that is not too hot. [It's] delicious, and we have the logo of our record on the sauce and we're selling it with our disc.
On the sound of the new album:
I've released many discs, but this is the second one from this particular band that was just started a couple of years ago. And I feel like the sound of this record is a maturing of this band, and doing this show has brought so much music, so much new music into our band's repertoire that we had this vast array of music to choose from, so we really just picked our favorite songs.