Goodbye to a local musician: Honoring the memory of Albert Martinez
July 11, 2018
A long-time local musician is gone, and he will be missed. Albert Martinez played and sang in restaurants, nursing homes, open mics, and jams around Grass Valley and Nevada City since the mid 1980s, after moving here from the Bay Area where he fronted bands and had a few small acting roles in movies and commercials.
For a time he was a member of the Nevada County Regulators band. He was generous with his time and thoughts, and always was out there talking with folks and introducing them to one another — building connections.
A player who knew him well called Martinez an "ambassador," helping new arrivals feel welcome within our musical community.
Local musician Gary Parks said Martinez was a big part of his life.
"Martinez was the first person I met when I arrived here eight years ago, and saw him sitting on a bench in downtown Nevada City with guitar in hand," Parks said. "I went over, and after a brief conversation he handed me the guitar to play a tune, then took me over to meet Jamey Bellizi at Empire Music and invited me to sit in with him at his Tofanelli's gig that evening. A couple restaurant patrons sang as well, resulting in four-part harmony on a few tunes."
After playing together for the first time, Parks and Martinez became friends.
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"A few days later we played an impromptu set during the afternoon at the Crazy Horse, just for fun," he said. "Over time he introduced my wife, Eva, and me to other musicians and steered us to opportunities to perform our music."
When asked about Martinez and his craft, Parks said, "He was full of ideas and schemes, encouraging different restaurants and bars to make a home for live music. The first such effort that I participated in was the mid-week open mic at McGee's, followed by promoting music at Jernigan's Tap House."
Martinez also initiated the Songwriters Collective in 2016 to encourage his and others' musical creativity. The collective plays new tunes for each other, add comments and suggestions, share words and chord sequences, and support each others' performances. The group also sponsors the Songwriter's Showcase concerts held at the Open Book every few months.
"Finding other musicians and connecting them with opportunities to express themselves was an essential part of his being," Parks said. "He also had his quirks and his demons, which those who knew him experienced along with his generosity."
Earning sufficient money in music was always a challenge, and though he supplemented this from time to time with substitute teaching and other irregular work, he lived a humble lifestyle in his worn trailer home.
In the end, it seems that the challenges became too much.
"I'll miss his voice, his tunes, and his enthusiasm," said Parks. "Having him pop into a gig to say hello. The occasional coffee and conversation at Fudenjuce and the camaraderie as we shared music within the songwriters group. And hearing his latest song — the one he hoped would be a hit and change his stars … "
Parks along with family, friends and other local musicians are trying to put together a service to honor Martinez's life and legacy.