Plymouth’s Wild Rose Moon kicks off the July month of their streamed show Moonlight with the “Open Mic aficionado,” (as host John Bahler said) Martina Samm. Now, this is my third review for Moonlight, so I have some experience with the artists that have come through Wild Rose Moon’s basement stage. Irish folk singer joHn Kennedy (June 12) emanated such a performer’s heart that even though the room only held six people in total, it felt like a full house, one-man concert. Americana songwriter Doug Harsch (June 26) brought an aura filled with wisdom and the youthful joy that only music can hold. Martina Samm gave altogether both of these feelings, as well as a unique one of her own. Sitting in the room with Samm’s kind, peaceful demeanor and compassionate lyrics felt like a fruitful oasis of its own. Escape the worries of today, and join Ryan Mear, John Bahler, and the woman of the hour herself, Martina Samm, on the newest episode of Moonlight.
Soon, Martina lifted her coffee-colored guitar (a Martin D-15) to her lap and was playing away. Her thumb strummed a light, soothing tune, for her first song titled, “Look in the Mirror.” Samm’s relaxed voice, able to jump from low note to high note and back again, reminded me very much of Joni Mitchell. Her lyrics are up to the same par, as well. It’s clear she takes great care with the words she uses. Between the softness of the song, she plays the chord D minor that brings a certain seriousness or even sourness to the tune. Perhaps because the act of looking in the mirror is so dynamic in experience, ranging from innocent to hurtful. In the song, she sings, “As you move nearer, there stands a child, small and meek / Moving nearer, you’re the salvation that she seeks.” This line then led to some really insightful conversation between Samm and John Bahler about the inner child inside of us all. Martina wonders that our inner child, “…May be the most hurt part of ourselves.” She goes on to build on that idea, saying, “That child needs the adult-you, to take it by the hand and help it understand how beautiful they are.” She encourages every audience member to unite their inner child with their current self in a beautiful and unique way. This is one of her many strengths.
Then, song two “Toast and Tea” was being introduced. Martina explained that this song is about her mother and her son, saying that it is very much a true story. The entrancing song didn’t get quite the amount of discussion time as it should have, as John Bahler sighed. However, the song works to almost build off of the previous conversation regarding the inner child and take it further. Not only does our inner child need us, but it also represents vulnerability and through that, symbolizes healing and the furtherment of ourselves. The song doesn’t quite possess a chorus, but one unifying line––“Sharing toast and tea.”
The imagery is what really makes this song soar, in my opinion. Suddenly, you are a child, transported to your grandmother’s kitchen, the morning after a sleepover. Together, you share a breakfast of toast and tea, completely entranced in bliss. By the second verse, she reminds you this beautiful painting is all a memory, singing, “Oh, time drifts and sways, I remember sitting there in that same space, / but the scene has been replaced.” She reminds us that time never stops ticking, all the while relishing in the experience. You can tell by the smile she wears as she sings, and the eye contact she makes with me, John, Ryan, and anyone else in the studio, that connecting with her audience is of the utmost importance. Watching her perform––in her moment of bliss, as so many performers are when on stage––is like eating the M&M amongst a slew of nuts in a trail mix.
Just like that, part one was over. During the half hour break, I complimented Martina’s bangs. I had just taken the craft scissors one reckless night and cut myself my own bangs, and was explaining how trimming them on my own is still somewhat of a mystery. She smiled and told me she’d teach me all of her tricks. (Martina, if you’re reading this, drop by the Moon and show me!) That was just the kind of light she brought with her. Effortless and expansive.
Song three, called, “It’ll Be Alright,” felt very George Harrison-esque in both message and whimsy. I would equate her song to his, “All Things Must Pass.” When the former Beatle sings, “Seems my love is up and has left you with no warning / It’s not always going to be this gray / All things must pass,” Samm sings, “Our lives take us up and down but always higher / Watch your step / but dance close to the fire of your desires / It’ll be alright.” She told me before the show that Harrison is one of her biggest songwriting inspirations. Not always does an artist’s inspiration come across in their work, but I believe Harrison is a great comparison for multiple reasons. Not only do their overall feeling and intentions come across similarly, but with both of the artists’ music, there is a present feeling of the ethereal, almost spiritual, almost without it meaning to be present in every song.
The last and final song of the night was Martina’s masterpiece. It was almost as if the pH in the room changed as she began, “Life’s Waiting For You.” She smiled wide as she said the song goes out to, “Everyone on the planet because there are so many times when we all say, ‘I would, but––’ or ‘If I only could,’and [all the while] life is waiting for you to join in.” Not only is it her personal favorite, but it left an uplifting aura in the room and with me even after I had left for the night. The moment she began, I was immediately transported to a living room with large windows on a soft rainy day. It wasn’t her lyrics that took me there, per say, and it wasn’t a dreary kind of rain, either. Whatever magic Martina had cast over the room took me to a reflecting room on a rainy day. A rainy day full of purpose, full of opportunity. A life-giving, soul-cleansing rainy day. There again is that Joni Mitchell-like vocal––jumping up and down the key. The song ends on the line, “Rest easy, no sorrow, you know tomorrow will be a perfect fit / And everyone benefits, / Life’s waiting for you.” Everyone in the room let out a happy little sigh of, “Wow.”
When asked why her work is important, Martina smiled and said, “It’s my gift. And… I’m finally embracing it. In a different way, in a better way, in a much healthier way. The message of encouragement and kindness and compassion… There’s never too many songs like that.” I completely agree, Martina. That message that you carry with you is why the room fills up with love when you step onto the stage. You bring that love, and you hand it out to each audience member when you smile at them during a song. To the readers, if you have not seen her episodes of Moonlight, I highly encourage you to go watch them. You may want to just listen to them. Her music is sunshine-bringing, skin-clearing, inspiration-giving goodness that you don’t want to miss out on.
Moonlight will return on July 24th with musician, and bandmate of John Bahler, Aaron Nicely. Both parts will be archived for viewing on the Wild Rose Moon FaceBook page and at the Wild Rose Moon Media YouTube Channel which can be accessed directly from wildrosemoon.com, where a list of upcoming shows can be found. Wild Rose Moon’s Moonlight is made possible by a generous grant from Gibson Insurance and the Gibson Foundation and from Marshall County Community Foundation and Marshall County Tourism.