Montana Student Archiving Age-Old Area Bands reports Xpress CDs
Collection of Montana bands from 1950s-’70s growing
Martens is a graduate student at the University of Montana, and received a 45 by the band Initial Shock about a year and a half ago from an uncle. After listening to the record, which featured “You Been a Long Time Comin” on the A side, Martens was fascinated.
“I really absolutely love that kind of music, but I really like history, too – Montana history in particular,” Martens said. “To have a rock scene at all in such a rural area in the early ’60s I think is pretty unique.”
From there, Martens used the Internet to find out all he could about the beginnings of rock ‘n’ roll in Montana.
He began collecting all he could, focusing on finding recordings, photos, posters, or anything else related to garage rock bands from Montana during the period from the late ’50s into the 1970s. He collects other music, too, but maintains his focus on the rock era.
Along the way, Martens connected with a number of people who played in the bands he was finding the music for. For example, he connected with Brian Knaff, who was the drummer for Initial Shock. Knaff began the entertainment management program at the University of Montana, and partnered with Doug Brown to found the Good Music Agency in Missoula in the ’70s. The program grew into a Las Vegas, Nev.-based business called Talent Buyers Network. Eventually, that business gained enough clout to purport itself to be the “largest outsource of casino showroom entertainment in the country.”
Martens, who hopes to become a speech pathologist after graduation, has his own radio program at the University of Montana’s radio station and plays drums and steel guitar for a couple of local bands. One of his long-term goals is to get some of the surviving members of the bands he has discovered to play a set at the Missoula Roots festival or the Montana Folk Festival in Butte next year.
Other long-term project that Martens has planned includes putting out a compilation album featuring some of the bands.
“I’d like to do a compilation of all Montana garage bands that I can find,” Martens said. “The one problem I’ve come across is not knowing when to stop because there’s so many stones unturned. I’ve only talked to basically just the musicians that I know exist.”
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