Thursday, January 12, 2012
Recently singer-songwriter Martin Shears developed an online request form with Ike Marr, the other member of his acoustic duo, Ike and Martin, who perform regularly in the Lake Tahoe area. This is how it works: When Shears plays his solo gig on Saturday at London Bridge, attendees can go to www.ikeandmartin.com on their smart phones and bring up a song list , which includes covers (everything from David Bowie’s “China Girl” to Uncle Tupelo’s “I Got Drunk”) and originals, more than 400 choices all told. Then, all you have to do is choose a tune and Shears immediately receives the request on-stage.
“So far, the whole thing has been very effective,” Shears says. “Apart from it being fun, it’s an interactive way for people to join in. Everybody’s on their bloody phones anyway.”
The service also allows Shears to market to everyone who makes a request through email.
In addition to working on ways to interact with bar audiences, Shears has been plugging away on a new album. For more than two decades, the musician – whose voice is like a cross between that of R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Squeeze’s Chris Difford – has been molding a sound that’s part new wave, part post-punk, and the new songs he’s crafting follow along.
The speedy guitar riff that guides “Beautiful Losers” sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie from the ’80s. The lyrics, meanwhile, read like they fit with one of the angst-ridden teens in The Breakfast Club: “You tell me who, where, how and why/ You tell me when to live and die… and what to love and what to hate.”
Meanwhile, in an effort to steer Judd Nelson-like high school hooligans in a more positive direction, the cueball-headed Brit runs Martin Shears’ School of Rock at the Carmel Youth Center.
“Our mission is two-fold,” Shears says. “To offer young musicians the best method for improving his/her musical skills, and to bring kids together in groups to learn how to perform as a unit, then put them in front of an audience.”
MARTIN SHEARS plays 9:30pm Saturday, Jan. 14, at London Bridge Pub, 256 Figueroa St., Wharf #2, Monterey. Free. 372-0581. (For info on Martin Shears School of Rock: 621-6170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)