February 28, 2013

Martens' birthday bash gives back

F.O.G. Festival with guest performers Chris Barron of Spin Doctors and John Popper of Blues Traveler celebrates Greg Martens' birthday and raises money for a food bank.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Greg Martens, right, celebrates his birthday at this weekend’s F.O.G. Festival.

Courtesy photo

Additional Photos Below

F.O.G. (FRIENDS OF GREG) FESTIVAL

• THURSDAY – 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., The Big Easy, 55 Market St., Portland: Chris Barron (of Spin Doctors) with Lazy Lightning and A Band Beyond Description. $5 at the door. bigeasyportland.com

• FRIDAY – 7 to 8:30 p.m., The Big Easy: Chris Barron and John Popper (Blues Traveler) and The Shakes. $10 in advance at Bull Moose Music stores; $12 at the show. bigeasyportland.com

• FRIDAY – 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland: John Popper with Chris Barron backed by The Fogcutters, plus Los Lotharios. $20 in advance at Port City box office or portcitymusichall.com; $25 day of show; $75 VIP. Ages 18-plus.

• SATURDAY – 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Port City Music Hall: John Popper with The John Clavette Band, DIRIGO, Anna and The Diggs and The Blues Brothers Tribute Band, plus a special comedy set by Birdie Googins, “The Mardens Lady.” $10 in advance at Port City box office or portcitymusichall.com; $15 day of show. Ages 18-plus.

WHAT ELSE: John Popper will sing the National Anthem before the Red Claws basketball game at 7 p.m. Friday (nba.com/dleague/maine). A “Bowling Party with F.O.G.” will be held at Bayside Bowl at 3 p.m. Saturday (baysidebowl.com).

Martens grew up in Camden, where his father worked in furniture restoration. While in college at Boston University, he helped set up a show for Frank Zappa and got a taste of the concert business.

He was also a Deadhead, and he parlayed following the Grateful Dead around the country into a job selling T-shirts at their concerts from 1987 to 1992. So it should come as no surprise that Marten got former Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten to perform at F.O.G. Fest last year.

Martens began working at Blue Traveler shows in 1992 and became the tour merchandise supervisor. He did that for a few years before returning to Maine and starting or working in various businesses.

But all the time, he's kept in touch with his musician friends. He even performs himself around Maine, as Jake Blues in The Blues Brothers Tribute Band.

Because this year is his 50th birthday, Martens wanted to make his F.O.G. Fest bigger than it's ever been. Thus the four shows and two major rock stars.

Blues Traveler, with Popper as frontman, helped create the jam-band scene of the 1990s (including the HORDE Festival), and scored a number of radio hits such as "But Anyway," "Run-Around" and "Hook."

A series of events -- including Popper's battle with obesity and the 1999 death by accidental drug overdose of bassist Bobby Sheehan -- helped end the band's days as a powerhouse act. But it's still recording and touring, and its latest studio album, 2012's "Suzie Cracks the Whip," was the band's first to crack the Billboard 100 since 2001.

Spin Doctors had a similar progression, gaining fame in the 1990s with a stripped down yet poppy rock sound, most notably on the hit singles "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" and "Two Princes." The band released a new studio album, "If the River Was Whiskey," in early February.

As luck would have it, Martens put together his 50th birthday party with Popper and Barron, then broke his ankle slipping on some steps in February.

But here's where his lack of shyness helps again.

"It just means I'll be at the shows wheeling around in a wheelchair. I'll still do the John Belushi part (in the Blues Brothers tribute band)," said Martens. "Maybe I can do a couple backflips in a wheelchair."

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

Twittter: RayRouthier

 

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Additional Photos

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Guest performers at F.O.G. Fest include Chris Barron of Spin Doctors ...

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... and John Popper of Blues Traveler.

 


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