Musician seeks Ojai return
by Lenny Roberts
With the exception of former Major League Baseball player
Steve Hovely, Ojaians who attain celebrity status seldom return
Although many actors and entertainers have called Ojai home
over the years, most aren't homegrown talent. But Martin Young
is, and he may be coming home soon.
No, he's not ready to quit Clint Black's band, where he has played
rhythm guitar for the last 12 years, but as Dorothy once said,
"There's no place like home."
"Ojai will always be a special place to me because it's
where I grew up," he said. "I miss the small-town community
that Ojai is all about, and I love that there are all walks of
life. It's also a very artistic and spiritual of place, not to
mention the beauty. I think one of things I miss the most are
my dear friends. My mother is in Ojai, too, and it would be nice
to be closer to her. Alan Thornhill and I have talked about doing
some stuff together again and I've been dabbling with computers
as a sideline that I would like to keep pursuing."
Young's musical ability emerged at an early age. He began playing
at the age of 9, influenced by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Crosby,
Stills and Nash, the Eagles and other groups that defined an
era of innovative rock 'n' rollers.
In his late teens and in his early 20s, he played in various
bands, and made recordings with several local artists. When Kenny
Loggins and Jim Messina moved to Ojai in the early '70s, Loggins
enlisted the help of a band Young played with to record some
demos for his publishing company.
"After moving to Los Angeles several years later, I had
the opportunity to record with James Hendricks, a successful
songwriter/artist who had written hit songs for Johnny Rivers.
The sessions were produced by Van Dyke Parks, who produced The
Beach Boys, Nielson, Ry Cooder and Randy Newman," he recalled.
Over the next several years, he worked with good friend Alan
Thornhill, who has written and performed with Messina, Loggins,
Kim Carnes and Hoyt Axton. Together, Young and Thornhill opened
shows for Taj Mahal, Loggins, Jackson Brown and many others.
Young's association with Black came about while Young was working
in Ventura with Houston transplants Hayden Nicholas, who would
become Black's lead guitar player and co-writer, and Dick Gay,
who became Black's drummer. Several years later, Young got a
call from Nicholas.
"I went to Houston with Hayden and Dick in '85 to do a gig
for a month back there; at that point they had decided to move
back to Texas. We stayed in touch over the years, and in December
1989, Hayden called me and asked me if I'd like to fly to Las
Vegas and audition for the job as Clint's acoustic guitar player.
I jumped at the offer. I was living in Los Angeles at the time,"
After all this time, he still is impressed to meet celebrities
that he has idolized for years.
"One of my favorite people is Steve Wariner, who is such
a great writer singer and guitar player. They call him 'Mr. Nice
Guy' around Nashville and its true. Vince Gill is also a real
down-to-earth, humble guy. Some other people that were a thrill
to meet were Dick Clark, Ringo Starr and Chet Atkins," he
Along with Gill and Wariner, other favorite country entertainers
are Diamond Rio, Dwight Yokam, Martina McBride, Emmy Lou Harris,
Alison Kraus and Patty Loveless. Noncountry favorites include
Don Henley, Sheryl Crow, Jimmy Buffet, James Taylor and Sting.
But never forgetting the caliber of local talent, he said Ojai
is full of great musicians and writers, too.
"Alan, Milton Kelley, Michael Connor, Rain Perry, Left of
Jonathan McEuen, Dan and Mary Wilson, and way more. They all
should be on the radio, but the sad thing is that radio has gotten
so formula-oriented and generic that a lot of really talented
people never get heard by a huge audience." Nashville, where
he currently lives, is unfortunately, the same way.
There are other similarities between Ojai and rural Tennessee,
namely the beauty and the family-oriented living.
"It's much greener here and very humid in the summer. People
are very friendly and down-home, but I think generally exposed
to a much less diverse set of lifestyles, so certain extremes
tend to offend people more easily," he said.
Playing before throngs of screaming country music fans with a
boss he both likes and respects is still fun, " because
the crowd is always enthusiastic and it's the highlight of our
day. When we do gigs with other acts, it's always fun to see
them do their show. The other 23 hours can be sort of a hurry-up-and-wait
kind of a situation, a lot of hanging around the venue waiting
to play. We do get to see a lot of the country, I think we've
been to all but about three states over the years," he said.
Young's resume is impressive, having recorded or performed with
Kate Wolf, Loggins, Messina, John Schneider, Chris Hillman, Jimmy
Buffet, Don Henley, Wynonna Judd, Noel Haggart, Martina Mc Bride,
Jett Williams and Shake Russell. His television and video performances
include "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, David Letterman,
Rosie O' Donnell, "Good Morning America," Regis and
Kathy Lee, Country Music Awards Show, Academy of Country Music,
"Donny and Marie Show" and Clint Black videos.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news
Music star Clint Black left, jams with Ojai's Martin Young during
a recent tour.