Asa Martin

Last updated
Asa Martin
Birth nameAsa F. Martin
Also known asJesse Coats (on Champion Records)
BornJune 25, 1900
Origin Winchester, Kentucky, USA
DiedAugust 15, 1979(1979-08-15) (aged 79)
Genres Old time
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, guitarist
Instruments Guitar
Years active1920s – 1940s

Asa F. Martin (June 25, 1900 – August 15, 1979) was an American old time musician, singer and guitarist who made many recordings during the 1920s and 1930s and was closely associated with renowned fiddle player Doc Roberts, for whom he played rhythm guitar. In turn, Roberts frequently played mandolin on Martin's recordings; Roberts' son James also sang duets with Martin under the name "Doc Roberts Trio".



Martin was born in Winchester, Kentucky into a music-loving family. His mother, who was a piano teacher, also played the guitar, and his father played the fiddle. [1] Because of low finances, Martin decided to drop out of medical school and try his hand at a career in music. In the early 1920s, he played in several dance bands, and in the meantime, he worked in a cinema as a background musician for silent movies. With the advent of talking pictures, he had to find another job. Martin met fiddler Doc Roberts at a fiddler's convention in Winchester. They began performing together, and soon, Martin and Roberts went to Richmond, Indiana for a recording session. [2] Martin made his recording debut with Doc Roberts on May 14, 1928, for Gennett Records. They recorded two songs at their very first session together, Second Love, and Lost Love. [3] Their recordings sold well, and Martin soon became one of the best selling old time artists of Gennett Records. [2] At their second session in August 1928, Doc Roberts son James was added as a singer. [3] In 1931, the band switched to ARC Records. [2] In addition to being a recording star, Martin also performed on radio stations in Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. [4] In 1935, he hired an aspiring young banjo player, David Akeman. Martin gave Akeman the moniker "String Beans" during an onstage presentation when he couldn't remember the banjo player's name. The name eventually became "Stringbean". [5]

Winchester, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Winchester is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of Clark County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 18,368 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Lexington-Fayette, KY Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Richmond, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Richmond is a city in east central Indiana, United States, bordering on Ohio. It is the county seat of Wayne County, and in the 2010 census had a population of 36,812. Situated largely within Wayne Township, its area includes a non-contiguous portion in nearby Boston Township, where the Richmond Municipal Airport is located.

Gennett was an American record company and label in Richmond, Indiana, which flourished in the 1920s. Gennett produced some of the earliest recordings of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, and Hoagy Carmichael. Its roster also included Jelly Roll Morton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, and Gene Autry.

Martin's pseudonym on the Champion label was Jesse Coats.

Martin retired from music in the 1940s and went to work at a steel plant in Ohio. In the 1950s, he moved to Irvine, Kentucky where he had purchased land just outside the town. He resumed his musical career on a small scale basis in the 1960s with his new band "the Cumberland Rangers". In the early 1970s, they recorded an album for Rounder Records Dr. Ginger Blue. Martin died at home in 1979 from a heart attack. [4]

Irvine, Kentucky City in Kentucky, United States

Irvine is a home rule-class city in Estill County, Kentucky, in the United States. It is the seat of its county. Its population was 2,715 at the time of the 2010 census. It is located on the Kentucky River at the junction of Kentucky Route 52 and Kentucky Route 89.

Rounder Records American record label

Rounder Records is an American record label specializing in folk, bluegrass, blues, and other forms of American roots music. Its roster includes Alison Krauss and Union Station, Béla Fleck, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, and Steep Canyon Rangers. Rounder's musicians have won over 40 Grammy Awards since the label's inception in 1970. The company also maintains book and video divisions.


  1. Russell 2007, p. 90.
  2. 1 2 3 Russell 2007, p. 91.
  3. 1 2 Russell, Pinson 2004, p. 588.
  4. 1 2 Russell 2007, p. 92.
  5. Wolfe 2001, p. 249.

Related Research Articles

Bill Monroe American bluegrass musician

William Smith Monroe was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, who helped to create the style of music known as bluegrass. Because of this, he is commonly referred to as the "Father of Bluegrass".

David "Stringbean" Akeman Banjo player

David Akeman better known as Stringbean, was an American singer-songwriter, musician, comedian, actor and semi-professional baseball player best known for his role as a main cast member on the hit television show, Hee Haw, and as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Akeman was well-known for his "old-fashioned" banjo picking style, careful mix of comedy and music, and his memorable stage wardrobe. Akeman's career came to a sudden end when he and his wife were brutally murdered by burglars at their rural Tennessee home in 1973.

Uncle Dave Macon American musician

Uncle Dave Macon, born David Harrison Macon—also known as "The Dixie Dewdrop"—was an American old-time banjo player, singer, songwriter, and comedian. Known for his chin whiskers, plug hat, gold teeth, and gates-ajar collar, he gained regional fame as a vaudeville performer in the early 1920s before becoming the first star of the Grand Ole Opry in the latter half of the decade.

Clarence "Tom" Ashley was an American musician and singer, who played the clawhammer banjo and the guitar. He began performing at medicine shows in the Southern Appalachian region as early as 1911, and gained initial fame during the late 1920s as both a solo recording artist and as a member of various string bands. After his "rediscovery" during the folk revival of the 1960s, Ashley spent the last years of his life playing at folk music concerts, including appearances at Carnegie Hall in New York and at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.

Wade Ward American musician

Wade Ward (1892–1971) was an American old-time music banjo player and fiddler from Independence, Virginia. He was especially renowned for his clawhammer banjo playing. He was a frequent winner at the Galax, Virginia Old Time Fiddler's Convention. His instrument, a Gibson RB-11 5-string banjo, is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution. Along with Kyle Creed, Wade Ward is thought by many to embody the 'Galax' style of clawhammer banjo playing.

Posey Rorer American musician

Posey Rorer was an American old-time fiddler who was best known for being a member of the American string band Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers.

Doyle Lawson American musician

Doyle Lawson is an American traditional bluegrass and Southern gospel musician. He is best known as an accomplished mandolin player, vocalist, producer, and leader of the 6-man group Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Lawson was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

Kenny Baker (fiddler) American fiddle player

Kenneth Clayton Baker was an American fiddle player best known for his 25-year tenure with Bill Monroe and his group The Blue Grass Boys.

The Osborne Brothers, Sonny Osborne and Bobby Osborne, were an influential and popular bluegrass act during the 1960s and 1970s. They are probably best known for their No. 33 1967 country hit song, "Rocky Top", written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and named after a Tennessee location.

Richard Daniel (Dick) Burnett was an American folk musician and songwriter from Kentucky.

The Morris Brothers were an American country music group particularly popular in the 1930s, although they continued to play together occasionally until the 1970s.

Albert Green Hopkins was an American musician, a pioneer of what later came to be called country music; in 1925 he originated the earlier designation of this music as "hillbilly music", though not without qualms about its pejorative connotation.

Jesse Donald "Uncle Jimmy" Thompson was an American old-time fiddle player and singer-songwriter. He is best remembered as the first performer to play on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, appearing with founder and host George D. Hay on the evening of November 28, 1925. The positive response generated by Thompson's performance would be an important influence on the show's creative direction in its formative years. While Thompson made only a handful of recordings late in his life, his cantankerous and eccentric personality and his fiddle skills have made him one of the best-known icons of early country music.

Henry Whitter was an early old-time recording artist in the United States. He first performed as a solo singer, guitarist and harmonica player, and later in partnership with the fiddler G. B. Grayson.

J. E. Mainer was an American old time fiddler who followed in the wake of Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers.

Robert Earl Johnson was an old time fiddler who was influenced by the music of Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers.

Fiddlin' Doc Roberts was an American Kentucky-style old-time fiddler.

The Tennessee Ramblers were an American old-time string band originally consisting of William "Fiddlin' Bill" Sievers (1875–1954) on fiddle, his son James "Mack" Sievers on banjo and vocals, daughter Willie Sievers (1909–1998) on guitar, and cousin Walter McKinney on steel guitar. The band was one of the most popular performing groups in East Tennessee during the 1920s through the 1940s, gaining initial fame as a backing band in fiddle contests held at Market Hall in Knoxville, Tennessee, and later performing at fairs and other gatherings around the eastern United States. They recorded several sides for Brunswick/Vocalion in 1928 and 1929, which were issued on the Vocalion label. After the death of William Sievers in 1954, siblings James and Willie formed a Hawaiian music group known as Mack's Novelty Hawaiians. Willie Sievers' guitar solos recorded with the band in 1928 and 1929 are among the first by a female lead guitarist in Country music.

"Cumberland Gap" is an Appalachian folk song that likely dates to the latter half of the 19th century and was first recorded in 1924. The song is typically played on banjo or fiddle, and well-known versions of the song include instrumental versions as well as versions with lyrics. A version of the song appeared in the 1934 book, American Ballads and Folk Songs, by folk song collector John Lomax. Woody Guthrie recorded a version of the song at his Folkways sessions in the mid-1940s, and the song saw a resurgence in popularity with the rise of bluegrass and the American folk music revival in the 1950s. In 1957, the British musician Lonnie Donegan had a No. 1 UK hit with a skiffle version of "Cumberland Gap".

Leonard Rutherford (1900?-1954) was an old-time fiddle player from Kentucky. He was a full-time live-entertainer and recording artist, but lacking any inclination for showmanship he performed in partnerships. For thirty-five years he toured with banjoist Dick Burnett, making a number of highly regarded recordings in 1926-1928. He formed a shorter recording partnership with guitarist and singer John D Foster but continued to play with Burnett. Rutherford was born in Somerset, Kentucky and lived most of his life in Monticello, Kentucky.


Find A Grave is a website that allows the public to search and add to an online database of cemetery records. It is owned by It receives and uploads digital photographs of headstones from burial sites, taken by unpaid volunteers at cemeteries. Find A Grave then posts the photo on its website.