MARTY FALLE TELLS STORIES THROUGH HIS MUSIC
American Country/Bluegrass singer-songwriter Marty Falle isn’t your typical country artist, though he does love his pickup truck.
There’s no manager, no touring. He’s strictly a Nashville recording artist who has owned a home on Hilton Head Island since 2003, a beautiful place to create his original music. Nevertheless, he boasts an international audience, all while maintaining a fulltime job with a Fortune 50 company.
His wife, Amber, and their 9-year-old son, Macklin, keep him grounded.
“Together is our favorite place to be,” said Falle, describing a plaque inside his home.
Falle’s soul, though, is firmly rooted in the “hollers” of Appalachia, evident in his latest album release, “Virgin on the Bluegrass.”
But that endeavor was an evolution.
Growing up in Cleveland, Falle’s parents listened to artists like Burt Bacharach and Frank Sinatra. They also expected him to play an instrument. In second grade, he chose the viola. By fourth grade he added tenor saxophone. Bass, guitar and piano came next.
“That viola’s still in my closet,” he says. “I can’t seem to part with it because it started everything.”
While serving detention in high school, Falle discovered his vocal talents after jumping to his feet when the music teacher announced amnesty to any male who wanted to join the choir.
“He was a really influential man in my life,” Falle says of his teacher. “Not only did I get an ‘A’ for showing up, but he taught us how to sing and harmonize.”
It opened a portal to a world Falle didn’t know existed.
“I became addicted to 3- and 4-part harmony,” he exclaims.
For years Falle’s focus was other people’s music. At Ohio University he sang in the a cappella choir and fronted a rock band that did covers — until a bandmate switched gears.
“We were headlining this outdoor festival when my bandmate suddenly asked the crowd of thousands, ‘Want to hear something Marty and I wrote together?’ I was petrified, but I sat at the end of the stage and started to play — and it had a pretty cool reaction,” he says.
Blue Eagle Music store in Athens, Ohio, where a group of guys hung out playing fiddle, banjo, and dobro, introduced him to bluegrass.
“It was something deeper,” he marvels. “It made my heart dance in a different way.”
The full force of Appalachian music hit him “like a lightning bolt” when he moved to Eastern Kentucky coal country for his first sales job. Traveling through “wild towns” like Harlin and Hazard, he remembers melodies that sprang from people affected by their surroundings.
It inspired Falle to write and record his first country album, “Ohio,” which created sparks of its own.
While making a video for the track, ‘Hoochie Coochie Gal from the Buckeye State,’ Falle met his future wife, who filled in last minute for the lead line dancer who’d quit. Then the video went viral with over three million views and CMT reached out about playing his song in prime time.
“Nashville changed everything,” says Falle.
That’s where he met Jonathan Yudkin, a studio musician and producer for A-listers like Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift.
“When I first met Marty,” says Yudkin, who once played with greats like John Hartford and The Dillards, “he was doing his own production and I was sending him things like fiddle and banjo tracks. I was instantly impressed and thought he was a full-time artist out there touring with a band.”
Yudkin pushed Falle to start recording in Nashville, eventually becoming his producer.
“Marty loves to tell stories. He’s a history buff and doesn’t write the usual kinds of songs. I think that’s what resonates with people — it’s fresh, exciting, and they don’t know where it’s going to go,” he adds.
When Falle suggested going “all in” on a bluegrass album, Yudkin was happy to collaborate, as was George Strait’s backup singer, Marty Slayton.
From the title song Grandma Needs Her Whiskey (inspired by Falle’s mother’s penchant for Canadian Club) to the moving lyrics of Bloody Coal (a tribute to coal miners) to the lively Superman Jimmie (about NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson), “Virgin on the Bluegrass” is a vivid snapshot of Appalachian music and life.
It’s also a reflection of a man who never stops fine-tuning his own creativity.