Photo by George Lauby
Rail Fest performance
Singer, guitarist and songwriter Rascal Martinez not only performs in the Nebraskaland Days parade, Rail Fest, and the Nebraska State Fair, but he recently hit the airwaves in Chicago too.
Rascal's song were broadcast on 1710 AM radio in Chicago, which featured him on Dec. 30 during a two-hour morning talk show.
The radio hosts played five of Rascal’s original songs from his extended play recording, The Long Road.
Co-host Nate Bell met Rascal in North Platte when he was passing through.
“I’d driven all day from Arches National Park in Utah and I was exhausted,” Bell told his radio audience. “They invited me over to the Lakehouse and bought me a beer and we talked about things.”
In mid-December, Bell asked Rascal if he would send some of his music to play on the show. The show is satirically called The Morning Dammit.
Rascal sent his CD.
The six songs not only impressed Bell, but also the station manager, W.C. “Bill” Turk, when he heard them on the air.
"From the first song, I was hooked,” Turk wrote later in an enthusiastic review of Rascal’s simply stated recording.
“Rock is replete with pretenders, borrowers and copycats, but once in a great while comes an artist who channels a spirit with a fresh yet familiar and resonant style,” Turk wrote.
Turk said Rascal’s music channels a mix of rockabilly, folk and country, with a subtext of Latin melodies and his vocals “come up out of the Nebraska plain like cool summer swell.”
Turk was most enthused about Rascal’s lyrics, which are simple statements of deep emotions. For instance, the title track says, “I needed you, but you left me. I didn’t know what to do. You said you would never leave.”
In Please Come to Me, Rascal delivers a prayerful request. “Savior please/ come to me/ and take away/ all of my misery.”
“The lyrics are straightforward, carried by addictive melodies,” Turk said. “The lyrics are where these songs derive a timeless power.”
Rascal also played bass on the recording, flashing is growing versatility as a musician. Marcello Sanchez delivers a “competent and assured beat” on the drums, Turk noted.
Rascal won the 32nd annual Texaco Country Showdown in North Platte during the Honky Tonk Bar-B-Que festival last spring, beating out eight other contestants. He competed in the state showdown finals during the Nebraska State Fair. Although Rascal didn’t win the state showdown, he was selected to perform two longer sessions just for the fairgoers, entertaining the crowd as they passed through the grounds.
Turk said Rascal clearly has a talent that resonates far beyond the Honky-Tonk and the sun-burnt fields of Nebraska.
He said one day the Rascal story will list the Texaco Country Showdown at the beginning of a long train of accolades.
Host Celia Forrest said Rascal is a fun name and he’s a good looking guy.
In early January, Rascal played in Glenwood Springs, Colo. at a mountain café.
Rascal also offers a dee jay and sound system for hire, as well as his own recording studio. He can be contacted through is website at rascalentertainment.com.
The Chicago radio station is a "community station operating in the artist’s communities" of the Windy City, according to its website. It bills itself on air as “your home for activism and the arts.”
The 1710 AM mission is to “provide a healthy alternative to mainstream media by creating a station that is not only for the people but entirely created by the people.”
The Morning Dammit show streams live on the Internet at www.que4.org on weekdays from 7-9 a.m.
This report was published first in the Jan. 8 print edition of the North Platte Bulletin.