For the Martin family, life really is a circus.
Four kids, professional music careers and a family group with a growing number of performances can be a bit chaotic. Parents Paul and Jamie had that chaos in mind when they named their fledgling band The Martin Family Circus in 2010.
“Jamie had decided to come, she was working a corporate job, and I was on the road with Marty Stuart. Our lives were nuts,” Paul Martin said.
Winchester native Paul Martin has been performing with country musician Marty Stuart for years, and plays bass for “The Marty Stuart Show.” Previously, he has performed with the Oak Ridge Boys and Exile. Wife Jamie is the daughter of Oak Ridge Boys member Duane Allen. The Martin kids, Kell, March, Texas and Tallant, have grown up around music, and quickly starting showing an aptitude for harmony and instrumentation, Paul Martin said.
When Stuart saw a video of Kell and March performing in their school talent show, he encouraged Paul to help them foster their musical talent, and soon the Martin kids had their own repertoire and a gig at Stuart’s Late Night Jam at the Ryman Auditorium in 2009. That performance convinced the Martins that their kids were ready for the music business, and soon the boys were joined by younger sisters Texas and Tallant. In March 2012, Texas had her own debut at the Late Night Jam, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
“Our kids, the music bug had already bitten them,”¿Paul said.
Now the Martin Family Circus will have the opportunity to perform in the place where Paul Martin’s musical career began — his hometown. The show will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, at The Cairn Coffee House.
Although numerous offers have come the family’s way, Paul said he has been selective about where he lets his children perform, vetoing gigs at clubs and bars. The Cairn proved to be the perfect family-friendly atmosphere.
“It would give me an excuse to come home and visit,” Paul said.
The family’s repertoire includes a little bit of everything, according to Paul. There are Exile songs, Oak Ridge Boys songs and even the Jackson Five. The Martins also are active in the music ministry at their church, including performing in and directing the annual Christmas program.
“Typically, we try to cover everything. We’ll probably do a couple Christmas songs,” Paul said.
Their first official performance as Martin Family Circus at Blue Moon Barbecue in Hendersonville, Tenn., exceeded their expectations, and even led to a seven-episode web series. The webisodes follow the Martins preparing for a live performance on a local news station in Tennessee, and Texas’ performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” at the Ryman Auditorium, as well as meeting Dolly Parton.
Although the show is no longer in production, Paul said the family learned a lot from the experience.
“If we can’t do it and be honest about it, we don’t want to do it. To me, it’s really interesting to watch each child develop and become an adult,” Paul said.
The show, “The Martin Family Circus,” can be seen on YouTube.
“Wonderful things have happened the last three or four years, and getting to include my family and my wife is the most rewarding part,” Paul said.
He recently completed his first solo album, dedicated to the music of Kentucky. The family is featured singing a version of “My Old Kentucky Home”¿and can be seen singing the song on an episode of “The Marty Stuart Show” set to air in March on the RFD network.
“What we’re doing with our music, it’s tied to a lot of different things. We’re also trying to teach them life lessons,” Paul said.
That includes the value of hard work and perseverance.
“If you don’t give your best effort, no matter what you’re doing, it’s not going to pay off. ”That’s what we’re trying to instill in our children.”
If the Martin Family Circus is fortunate enough to continue performing together in the coming years, Paul said he is hopeful Winchester will be a regular stop, so his children can grow up knowing friends and relatives here.
“I’d love to make Winchester a stop, where people come to expect, ‘OK, it’s been a couple months, Paul should be coming back with the kids.’ It’s something really special to me to bring my kids to the place where I grew up.”
For more information on the Martins, visit www.martinfamilycircus.com.