Barrett Martin

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Barrett Martin
Barrett martin.jpg
Background information
Also known as "The Bear"
Born (1967-04-14) April 14, 1967 (age 51)
Olympia, Washington
Origin Seattle, Washington
Genres Modern Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Alternative Rock, Delta Blues
Occupation(s) Writer, Composer, Producer, Artist
Instruments Drums, Percussion, Upright Bass, Piano, Vibraphone, Marimba
Years active 1987–present
Labels Columbia, Cruz, Epic, Sunyata Records & Books
Associated acts Barrett Martin Group, Levee Walkers, Mad Season, Queens of the Stone Age, R.E.M., Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, Tuatara, The Desert Sessions, Walking Papers

Barrett Martin is an American writer, drummer, composer, and Grammy-winning producer best known for his work with several rock bands from Seattle including Skin Yard, Screaming Trees, Mad Season, Tuatara, and Walking Papers. He has played on albums for R.E.M., the Stone Temple Pilots,[1]Queens Of The Stone Age, as well as over 100 albums, films, and television soundtracks.

In 2017, Martin won a Latin Grammy for his production and percussion work on Nando Reis' album "Jardim-Pomar." [2] In 2014, he was awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor award for excellence in writing for his liner notes in the Mad Season Deluxe Reissue.[3]

Martin has also been featured as a guest drummer on dozens of albums and film soundtracks, and the PBS short documentary on his drumming and Zen painting, titled "Zenga and the Art of Percussion", won a 2009 Emmy in the New Media Arts category.[citation needed]

He is married to Dr. Lisette Garcia, a Latina scholar and writer, who is also a percussionist.


Martin was born and raised in Olympia, Washington. He studied jazz and classical music theory at Western Washington University in the mid-1980's.[citation needed] After dropping out from college to play music professionally, he later completed both his bachelor's and master's degrees in anthropology, linguistics, and ethnomusicology at the University of New Mexico, graduating Summa Cum Laude (highest honors).[citation needed]

Martin joined Skin Yard in 1990, making two albums with the band, 1000 Smiling Knuckles (1991) and Inside the Eye (1993). When Skin Yard broke up, Martin was asked to fill the recently vacated drum seat in another Seattle band, Screaming Trees. The Trees went on to make three more studio albums with Martin, Sweet Oblivion (1992), Dust (1996), and Last Words: The Final Recordings (2011) before calling it quits in June 2000.

In 1994, Martin formed the supergroup Mad Season with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, and Chicago blues bassist Baker Saunders. The band released its debut album Above in 1995, playing only a handful of local shows before disbanding.

In 1996, Martin and Peter Buck of R.E.M. founded the revolving-door music project Tuatara, which has released nine albums.

In March 2000, Martin was ordained as a Zen monk in the Soto tradition through the Detroit Street Zen Center in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

In 2001, Martin started Sunyata Records & Books, an imprint label and book publishing company. In 2011, he was appointed as an adjunct professor in the liberal arts department at Antioch University in Seattle.

In 2004, he released his first solo album as the Barrett Martin Group titled, The Painted Desert, and in 2006, he followed up with a second album, Earthspeaker. A third solo album, Zenga, was released in 2009, followed by the albums Atlas (2011), Artifact (2012), and Transcendence (2018).

On August 2, 2011, Screaming Trees released their final album titled, "Last Words: The Final Recordings." The album was produced by Martin and was mixed by Jack Endino.

In 2012, Barrett formed a new group named Walking Papers. The band included Seattle musician Jeff Angell (The Missionary Position, Post Stardom Depression) and also included bassist Duff McKagan (Guns & Roses, Velvet Revolver), and keyboardist Benjamin Anderson. The band released its self-titled debut album on Martin's Sunyata Records in 2012.

In April 2016, Martin announced the formation of a new group with Duff McKagan and Mike McCready titled, Levee Walkers. With the ongoing hiatus of Walking Papers and the formation of Levee Walkers as a studio project, Martin has focused his energies as a producer for other bands and solo artists around the world. Recently, he produced albums for the Welsh band, Buffalo Summer, delta blues legend CeDell Davis, and Seattle singer-guitarist Ayron Jones.

In 2013, Martin started writing a music and culture blog for The Huffington Post.[4] He currently writes essays for the politically progressive web magazine, Riot Material.

In 2017, he published his first book, The Singing Earth, which is a collection of musical adventure stories taken from Martin's work over the course of 30 years, in 14 different musical regions, across 6 continents around the world.[citation needed]


Barrett Martin Group
  • The Painted Desert – 2004
  • Earthspeaker – 2006
  • Zenga – 2009
  • Atlas – 2011
  • Artifact – 2012
  • Transcendence - 2018
Mad Season
Screaming Trees
Skin Yard


Walking Papers
Various Others

Film soundtracks[edit]

  • Even The Devil Gets The Blues - 2016
  • Woven Songs of the Amazon – 2006
  • Ausangate – 2006
  • The Fog Ravens – 2003
  • Lush – 1999
  • The Best Men – 1999
  • Deceiver – 1998


External links[edit]