Joe Martyn Ricke

REVIEW and Interview: Joe Martyn Ricke “Little Clarissa and Other Stories”


Joe Martyn Ricke – Little Clarissa and Other Stories

“Our Road” is a standout on Little Clarissa and Other Stories by Joe Martyn Ricke. It’s one of those movie credit songs that really generates an atmosphere for the longing expressed in this album. Katie Shore provides a fiddle breakdown on this track that’s perfect for the dance floor. Like many on this collection, it’s a song you can play at the neighborhood block party or a late night campfire.

Ricke started out on a Silvertone Sears guitar in his early teens, learning songs to play for his friends in the neighborhood.

“I grew up in the Rio Grande Valley,“ Ricke said. “Down around the Mexican border.”

Ricke’s father, a World War II veteran, settled the family down in Mercedes, a quiet town at the southern edge of Texas. Ricke later attended high school in San Antonio where basketball took a center focus, but he continued to play instruments with his brother Gordon, who appears on the album.

“I have a lot of problems with my body now that are probably the result of playing basketball way past the time I should have been playing,” Ricke said with a laugh.

Ricke holds a PHD from Rice University and the album is a testament to his devotion to literature. There are details that unfold each time you listen to the tracks that paint a vivid picture in the listeners mind.

The title track “Little Clarissa” is an epic coming of age story. “Midnight Rodeo” provides a similar atmosphere of careless summer nights. All of the tracks really bring me back in time to that golden era before technology became an essential part of our existence, and the modern production by David Beck is pristine.

“’Little Clarissa’ is the heart of the thing,” Ricke said. “It’s just me on guitar with a cello.”

The album explores difficult trials with “Broken Beautiful,” a tribute to Ricke’s parents, and the hope that we find when we push through the dark times.

“My parents were divorced from each other three times, but they married each other four times,” Ricke said. “They were there together at the end, but they had a stormy relationship. This song is my Dad kind of saying ‘well I love you, want to get back together’ except in a very poetic way.”

Ricke served as an English professor in Indiana and recently settled down in Seguin just outside of San Antonio, a perfect area filled with songwriters and hundreds of music venues within a fifty mile radius. Ricke was connected to musician and producer David Beck through fellow songwriter Missoula Slim and sat down to discuss the project.

“We met at a little coffee house here in Seguin,” Ricke said. “We talked about what it might look like. David’s got an interesting sensibility.”

Ricke was looking for a producer that would bring fresh ideas to the table and use their unique perspective to drive the project. Beck provides instrumentation and backup vocals throughout the album along with Jordan Buchoz and Dees Stribling.

“The give and take was amazing,” Ricke said. “I couldn’t ask for a better process. I think he’s just sensitive to whatever anybody wants to do. He goes in different directions.”

Ricke builds a format of emotional highs and lows for the track placement.

“Beautiful Eyes” reminds me of Cat Stevens with finger picking and vocal effects. As the beautiful production from David Beck takes form a grand feel creeps in for the chorus. “Raven” is a moving track that builds an open landscape, another trip back in time where you’re driving to the air waves.

Ricke continues to perform with his brother Gordon at the legendary Poodie’s Hilltop in Spicewood and Honky Tonks throughout the Hill Country.

More information available on Joe Martyn Ricke here:

Leave a Reply!