Folk singer Amy Martin makes stop in Cape Girardeau

Friday, May 2, 2003

The songs she writes and sings sometimes are concerned with peace and social justice, but Amy Martin takes care not to step over the line into self-righteousness.

"It's annoying to listen to somebody preach," she says.

If she writes an anti-war song she examines the war and aggression in herself.

"Any song that takes on political subjects loses its authenticity if the songwriter isn't assessing their own issues," Martin says.

Three years and four CDs after deciding to devote herself to folk singing, the 30-year-old Martin is on a tour through the Midwest, sleeping in the back of her pickup truck. She stopped Thursday in Cape Girardeau to begin a string of nearby concerts.

One of her songs, "It's About Oil," satirizes the U.S. reasons for going to war with Iraq, but not a drop of antipathy seep from her strong, agile and truly pitched voice.

"As much as I criticize the leaders of the country, it's a hard job," she says.

She is working within a respected tradition. She met Pete Seeger and Canadian folk singer Bruce Cockburn at a protest at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., a military camp trains soldiers from Latin America. She wrote a song about it, "Georgia, Late November."

Martin also writes love songs, though it has been awhile since she was in love. "I write thinking about falling in love songs," she says.

The life of a fledgling folk singer is busy. Thursday at 6, she sang at the weekly peace vigil that has been held in Cape Girardeau since before the United States went to war with Iraq. At 7 p.m. she sang at a house concert attended by 20 people at the Cape Girardeau home of Jean and Larry Underberg.

Tonight at 7 she will perform at the Lab Theatre in the Grauel Building as part of the Regional Heritage Series at Southeast Missouri State University. Saturday afternoon she plays at the Makandafest in Makanda, Ill. That night she's at the Yellow Moon coffee house in Cobden, Ill. Sunday afternoon she sings for four hours at the River Ridge Winery in Commerce, Mo.

The following night she returns to her alma mater, Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., for a coffee house concert.

Grew up on farm

Martin grew up on a small farm in Iowa, not far from Dubuque. She was frightened the first time she sang in public, a coffee house gig at Augustana. "It was scary putting my thoughts and feelings out there," she says.

Thursday night at the house concert, she began her performance with two songs about birds. She sang a poetic and melodic song about the simultaneous appearance in Montana of wildflowers and snowstorms, and a tune about her conversation with four young servicemen at a Washington, D.C., peace rally.

"I remembered how it was to be 18 or 19 and think you have everything figured out," she told the audience.

"I love all of them all," she sang.

Information about Martin and her recordings is available on her Web site at amy-martin.com.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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