Martin Zellar first appeared on the Twin Cities music scene in the late ’80s as the lead singer and songwriter for the alt-country pioneers, Gear Daddies. The Gear Daddies released two albums on Polygram Records, appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and toured extensively for three years before amicably parting ways in 1992. Zellar has gone on to record and perform as a solo artist and with his band The Hardways, releasing eight more albums on the Rykodisc and Owen Lee Recordings labels. More than 30 years down the road from his first release, Martin Zellar continues to make his living writing, recording, and performing music.
“…writers from Dylan to Springsteen, often tell us far more about the human condition by concentrating on life’s everyday moments. That’s the strength of Martin Zellar…” – Robert Hillburn, Los Angeles Times
“…he writes songs with a nakedness, perhaps, or lack of pretentiousness that’s particularly convincing.” – Gina Arnold, Creem Magazine
“Let’s get this straight: Martin Zellar is one of the country’s finest young songwriters and it’s doggone time he started getting the recognition he deserves.” – Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New Mexican
“While Zellar’s gravelly voice and gritty country-rock nicely suit the material, his songwriting is what really shines.” – Eric Fidler, Associated Press
“Talk about the most underrated songwriters of the past decade and this guy’s got to be in your first sentence.” – Kevin O’Hare, Newhouse News Service
“His songs are just too beautiful, too fully realized to ignore.” – Austin Chronicle, Austin, Texas “… reflective country-rock musings that only barely conceal some rather world-class emotional turmoil beneath.” – Steve Simels, Stereo Review Magazine
“Zellar’s snapshots of down-and-outers…vividly detail an entire life in under three minutes…” – Hal Horowitz, All Music Guide
Featuring Ellen Stanley on banjo and vocals, Mother Banjo is a New England-raised, Minneapolis-based songwriter. Called “an outstanding poet” (Inside Bluegrass), she was a Midwest Finalist for the prestigious Mountain Stage NewSong Contest and has been featured nationally on SiriusXM Radio and CMT.com.
Following up on the success of her CDs Stray Songs and The Sad and Found (named the #10 album of the year by the St. Paul Pioneer Press), she released her highly anticipated new album The Devil Hasn’t Won on her own label So Low Recordings. An Americana gospel collection produced by Steve Kaul (The Brass Kings), it showcases her all-star 5-piece band that includes guitarist Dan Gaarder (Trailer Trash, The Roe Family Singers), bassist Eric Paulson (The Roe Family Singers, Jennifer Markey & The Tennessee Snowpants), mandolin player Jim Parker (Ukrainian Village Band, Town Hall Stompers) and pianist/drummer Ben Cook-Feltz (The Federales, Art Vandalay). Featuring lively originals and unique covers of songs that she calls “pub gospel,” the new album shows why Mother Banjo has been hailed for her poetic songwriting and powerful vocals, winning the praise of such artists as Josh Ritter and John Gorka.