With four kids and a dad traveling the country performing with country musician Marty Stuart, life in the Martin family can seem a bit like a circus.
When parents Jamie and Paul Martin began performing with their kids, March, Kell, Texas and Tallant, life got even crazier.
“Obviously, with the music business thing, with our families and stuff, the kids have always loved music. It’s always noisy at our house,” Paul Martin said.
The Winchester native began his musical career at a recording studio in the family living room with his parents, Bill and Texas Martin. Eventually, Paul would land full-time gigs with the Oak Ridge Boys, Exile and Marty Stuart. After his marriage to Jamie Allen, daughter of Oak Ridge Boys singer Duane Allen, it was inevitable that Paul Martin would continue the family musical tradition with his own kids.
“That’s just kind of been my entire life,” Martin said of his musical endeavors.
His musical career will truly come full circle this weekend when the Martin Family Circus comes to Winchester to perform at the annual Fourth of July celebration at Lykins Park. The show will begin at about 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 per car load, or $2 for walk-ins.
The idea for Martin Family Circus came from now 10-year-old Kell, when expressing his appreciation for his family to his dad.
‘’You know, Dad, I know I’m gonna grow up someday and get married and have kids, but I don’t want to leave this family,’” Paul said.
The four Martin kids were always singing at home with their parents, and Paul said he and Jamie loved teaching them difficult harmonies and seeing them progress in their singing abilities. Eventually, those family sing-alongs led to a performances in Nashville, at Douglas Corner Cafe and the local morning news show. Paul also produced a CD of the family recordings, and soon the kids were getting the attention of some big names in Nashville, performing for the likes of Dolly Parton.
The four Martin kids are not exactly strangers to the spotlight. Thanks to their father and grandfather, they have been on stage with the Oak Ridge Boys and Marty Stuart, and the Late Night Jam. However, the Martin Family Circus performances mark the first time the Martin children have been billed as their own act.
“We created this little buzz around town, and we get calls to do things,” Paul said.
That buzz has even led to a possible reality TV show. Paul said that the family has not worked out the specific details, but TV crews have already begun filming at their home in Nashville.
“What they see is a very unique situation. We’re raising a family, but we’ve also got this long lineage of music,” Paul said.
Juggling a family act with his own musical career has proven to be a challenge for Paul, who spoke from New York while preparing to tape “The David Letterman Show” with Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives, Stuart’s band. He will have a busy holiday weekend, stopping in Winchester between performances in Missouri, Illinois, Nashville and Prestonsburg. Paul said that Stuart has encouraged him to continue performing with Martin Family Circus, and to showcase his talents in his hometown. Although Paul’s parents are deceased, his sister Teresa Carpenter still lives in town and sister Pam Johnson lives in Powell County.
“My kids just love Winchester. They love coming here, and of course they love Ale-8,” Paul said.
The expected crowd at Lykins Park, approximately 8,000-10,000, will definitely be the biggest live audience Martin Family Circus has ever performed for. Paul said it will be a good learning experience for the budding musicians, ages 4, 5, 10 and 13.
“What a great place for us to play in front of a big crowd, because most of the people there, they’re going to be on our side,” Paul said. “I love my hometown.”
For Jamie and Paul Martin, exposing their kids to the Nashville music scene has been inevitable, but they don’t ever want to force a musical career on them, Paul said. Rather, their goal, like most parents, is to raise happy, healthy people.
“We’re not worried, are we gonna be rich and famous, we just want to sing together,” Paul said. “It’s really fun to watch each one of the kids develop as a singer and player, and a little human being, too. We want to raise good kids.”
Music also is a good way to learn about hard work and setting goals, something that will serve the Martin kids well in whatever career they choose.
“It’s fun because our kids are getting to experience things at an early age, but we’re teaching them, this is what you have to do,” Paul said.
He admitted that, although his parents were supportive of his musical career and musicians themselves, they wouldn’t have minded if their son had chosen a more stable career.
“(My dad) probably would have preferred I went to law school or something. If you follow your heart, you’re always going to be happier doing what you love. I’m trying to use music as a way to teach them discipline,” Paul said. “You’re gonna have to work hard at it, whatever you do in life.”
Right now, though, seeing his kids on stage is one of Paul’s greatest thrills.
“They (audience members) say, ‘You can’t help but smile,’ but they probably see me smiling more than anybody,” Paul said.
Contact Rachel Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org.