Nico and Martin – The Early Days

Martin and I met on a film session in London in 1994. We spent several days rehearsing and recording. I was amazed to meet someone who seemed to know what I was going to improvise before I played it, and whose double bass seemed to be a sister voice to my mandolin.

We were playing the compositions of Andrew Dickson, who along with Ivor Cutler I would cite as my musical godfather.

We had scores to read and picture to play to – it was difficult but exhilarating, and Andrew valued our naivety, our musical youth and freshness, more than our reading speed.

Martin came to Ireland that year and came to stay with me in Bray. Whatever we played he enriched it.

This is An Dro, a Breton tune:

I have specialised in making music for and with children, celebrating their ideas and encouraging them to participate on a playful level, rather than training them to perform.

In 1997 I was musician in residence at The Ark in Dublin. Martin agreed to be in ‘The Christmas Cafe’ and play baby brother Malachy to my 8-year-old girl Nicola.

He wore a huge nappy and babygro (and dreadlocks and beard) and was adored by the audience. His double bass dropped 20 feet on a wire from the ceiling into his lap. He slid around the stage on his back, bowing the theme from Jaws. He played ‘Away In A Manger’ on the ropes of a stepladder, ‘Jingle Bells’ on an egg-slicer, and dijeridu-ed ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’ on the tube of a vacuum cleaner.

I realised I had found my ideal musical partner.

Nico Martin