Sunday 16th September 2018
£13.50 - £16.50
Brothers Ben Martyn (singer / bass) and Emile Martyn (drums) spent their formative years living in New Orleans surrounded by world class musicians from the New Orleans music world.
The picture on the left was taken by Eric Clapton of Emile as a baby at London Zoo in 1965 with legendary New Orleans musicians Louis Nelson and George Lewis. So there was no doubt where Emile’s career would be going.
Emile spent 10 years living and working in New Orleans with some of the top musicians in the world in this line of music. He’d been playing on Bourbon St with his Godfather Harold Dejan and also been working with Fats Domino’s side men when they weren’t on the road. He often played, and still does, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival. Then suddenly he found himself back in Europe asking himself ”what do I want to do next?”
The answer came on tour while riding to work across a Swiss mountain on a snowcat with trumpeter Paul Bonner who he’d just met. Paul said he wanted to form a band in London, England playing contemporary New Orleans style music, Emile went home and thought about the idea and a month later the band was born.
They played in London for a few months but knew something was missing. It was then that Emile persuaded his brother Ben to join on vocals and bass. Ben came more from the rhythm ‘n’ blues side of town and had been working with his own band as guitarist, pianist and singer both in the U.S and in London. Emile knew if he could get him to write some songs that kept that rhythms of New Orleans and blended them with some fresh melodies and lyrics that they’d be onto something. The collective idea, between the three of them, was to stay close to the roots of New Orleans music, both old and new, and combine it with the sounds and experiences of living back in London.
They were playing (as they still do) a selection of tunes from their favourite artists such as Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Elvis and others whilst adding more and more original songs written by Ben or co-written by Ben and pianist Tom Kincaid. But still keeping close to the sounds and flavours of the music they loved. So when you heard, or now hear, their original material, you feel as if you’d heard it before. It’s instantly likeable and kind of familiar at the same time without actually copying. We’re often asked “Who’s that song by? Jerry Lee Lewis, Professor Longhair, Chuck?” “No, it’s one of our own actually”.
So here they are a number of years later, bolder and stronger than ever. They’ve played all over the place in all kinds of venues, tv, radio shows for the BBC, festivals, parties, clubs, everywhere you can name. Emile even played the Royal Albert Hall on a Friday night and Wembley Stadium the following day!… A great way to make a living. The band, collectively or with other projects, play such events as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival, BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, London’s Camden Roundhouse, private functions for the queen, the list goes on. The band are now based in London but play all over the world.
Ben Martyn : Vocals, Bass, Piano. Ben is the vocalist and writes the songs, he’s the front man. His driving, exciting bass lines along with Emile’s explosive drumming is what gets the people up on their feet. He can also sometimes be found on the piano stool in the studio and on gigs. Ben lived several years in New Orleans playing rhythm n’ blues, going on to develop an interest in writing his own music for The Fallen Heroes, several album titles later he’s still pumping out new material. When we play, it’s Ben’s songs that do the most, to quote Mike Clifton in The Music Sentinel “There’s a thousand bands out there playing the predictable old tunes, what Ben Martyn’s songs do is turn the band into something different, something that matters and something that is relevant, these guys mean it“.
Emile Martyn : Drums, MC and Occasional Singer. He had lessons in New Orleans with the drummers from Ray Charles’s band, Harry Connick Jnr’s and also Professor Longhair’s. He began the band with the late great trumpeter Paul Bonner and soon recruited Ben as the singer and bass player. One of his earliest memories was seeing his Godfather Harold Dejan and ‘Olympia Brass Band’ in the James Bond movie ‘Live and Let Die’. It was the funeral scene, and the reason for giving the band it’s name. ‘Fallen Heroes’ was a piece of music written at the start of the 20th century as a dirge, widely played at New Orleans funerals.
John ‘Flashback Radio’ Ruscoe : Guitar. He’s the quiet one, the dark horse but he’s keeping that motor running in the band, he’s driving that rhythm section along. John mixes the styles of Chuck Berry, Scotty Moore, Gram Parsons, Wes Montgomery and Muddy Waters without plagiarising. John draws on his varied tastes, as does the rest of the band, but has his own unique sound and style, which is so much a part of the band. It just wouldn’t be The Fallen Heroes without him. John is the anchor to the ship of musical pirates that are The Fallen Heroes. John mixes whiskey with anything.
George Simmons : Trombone. George comes more from the Jazz side of the music. He’s the youngest member of the band, he played with the band on and off for several years before joining the ranks full-time in 2014. George is a good time party man, adding a lot of fun to the proceedings He’s brilliant on the Ska tunes too. Trombone being such an integral part of both Ska and Jazz.
Ian Beetlestone : piano, vocals. Ian started playing the piano in bars in his native Yorkshire at the age of thirteen. Like much in life it probably wasn’t quite legal but it was character-forming, and quite fun. He played with the band on and off for several years before joining full-time in 2014. His influences on the keys are from the Errol Garner – John Cale spectrum with a bit of Eric Morecambe thrown in. He also writes dark, quirky songs which we showcase in the band from time to time. He likes hats and whisky.
Finlay Milne: Trumpet and vocals. Finlay originates from Edinburgh, Scotland where he studied trumpet both classically and jazz. He has been the front man of The Ginger Pig band and the internationally famous Criterion Brass Band. He’s been living in London for many years now and has been friends with Emile and Ben since they were all teenagers. After playing on and off with The Fallen Heroes for many years, he finally joined them full time in the summer of 2015. Finlay has such an extensive knowledge and feel of the music of New Orleans so was the perfect choice for the band.
Tell us what you think of SUNDAY JAZZ LUNCH: The Fallen Heroes below..