Bona fide Bard, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Martyn Wylde spins lively musical yarns that put a contemporary twist on traditional elements of British folk and Celtic music. A skilled guitarist, bassist, bouzouki and octave mandolin player as well as a masterful arranger, Wylde imparts timeless and tender tales with his three-octave vocal range, transforming lyrics and tunes that are... more
Bona fide Bard, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Martyn Wylde spins lively musical yarns that put a contemporary twist on traditional elements of British folk and Celtic music. A skilled guitarist, bassist, bouzouki and octave mandolin player as well as a masterful arranger, Wylde imparts timeless and tender tales with his three-octave vocal range, transforming lyrics and tunes that are hundreds of years old and his own original compositions into exciting adventures with equal grace. A giving artist and scholar brimming with “awen” (Welsh for “flowing inspiration”), his joyful live performances and recordings showcase his observational nature and a profound insight into humanity that allows him to channel dynamic characters and emotional, personal moments through the textures of his voice. The years he has spent studying the folklore of Ireland, England and Scotland put him at the center of the beating heart of the traditional folk music renaissance carried on by award-winning musicians like Show of Hands, Damh the Bard and Kate Rusby.
A native of Florida, Wylde turned to music as a way to express himself and connect with others early on in his childhood. He wore out records by the Kingston Trio and Harry Belafonte, curiously captivated by the clarity of acoustic instruments, three-part harmony and the rhythms of calypso spirituals. He soon began to test out a variety of instruments – guitar, trumpet and drums – while listening intently to pop on AM radio. He dissected the delicate vocal layers and contagious melodies of hits by the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys and felt moved by the ability of singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson to convey genuine, bold, complex feelings through deceptively straightforward love songs.
Throughout his teens, he sang in choir, learning bass, tenor, alto and soprano parts and how to blend with other singers and instruments. As he fine-tuned his own technique, he also got involved in theater and realized how critical production and staging were to engaging musical performances. At 13, he was introduced to bass guitar when his friends needed a bassist for their surf band. He made himself into a proficient player by locking himself away in a room and playing along with every song he heard on the radio. A few months later, when The Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, Wylde switched over to a steady diet of British rock while continuing his traditional folk and vocal music education.
It was Wylde’s excitement about expressing his own ideas and feelings that made him gravitate towards songwriting, and he began to keep notebooks chock full of verses, poems and impressions of the colorful world, which became a lifelong habit. After playing bass exclusively for several years, frustrated by the challenges of trying to write his first love song on bass, he borrowed an acoustic guitar from the object of his affection and accomplished his goal, at the same time discovering how to accompany himself on guitar and to experiment with different tunings. He learned octave mandolin and percussion instruments including bodhran in the years that followed so he could do justice to the melodies and the pulse of Irish session pieces.
Wylde’s journey as a solo and ensemble musician has spanned many different genres and speaks to his versatility as an artist. He has appeared on nearly 20 albums as a singer and instrumentalist. Before embracing his calling as a modern-day minstrel, he spent three decades as a session and touring bassist and played bass in a Southern Rock band. He began to focus exclusively on British and Celtic folk songs just over a decade ago, when his fingerstyle guitar and vocals first appeared with Wyldefyre, a group that was in high demand on the U.S. renaissance faire circuit. He also continues to play bass with the band Celtic Mayhem.
Now with his sights set on a solo career, Wylde is especially passionate about singing “folk songs of the British Isles” and on becoming a true keeper of the history and tradition of the Celtic peoples. He has trained as a Bard through a British organization known as The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), which helps further the spiritual, creative and philosophical side of his art that first compelled him to bring his work to a worldwide audience. Wylde’s debut album, Minstrel’s Lament was released in 2009. His most recent collection, The Child Ballads, Volume 1 features his own interpretations of eight of the traditional British songs researched and catalogued in the 19th century by Harvard scholar Francis James Child. Wylde played all instruments on and harmonized with himself on both albums. He has recently teamed up with a lyricist to write new songs which will be part of his next release.
Martyn Wylde performs at folk and acoustic music venues, renaissance and medieval faires, Celtic festivals, house concerts and private/corporate events and is planning performances in the U.S. and abroad within the next year. The Child Ballads, Volume 1 is available now.less