From Belfast to Tenby… to Memphis, Tennessee

Photo © JIM HEAL

It’s not often that we feature news from Tennessee but…

The 37th International Blues Challenge has been postponed from its usual January slot (you can probably guess the reason) and it will now take place 6-9 May.

Why do I think you might be interested in this? Well, because the UK’s representative at this huge annual event is none other than Dom Martin, who recently rocked the Tenby Blues Festival. As well as his being one of the real highlights of the festival, one of his other achievements from 2021 is that he won UK Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year. 

Not for the first time.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the man himself, and managed to put a few questions to him.

First I congratulated him on doing such a great show so soon after coming out of lockdown. Like many of us, Dom has mixed feelings about the past two years.

“My lockdown was great in terms of just sitting playing guitar and working on technicalities and learning how the relationship between guitar and amp works. I did a lot of learning over the lockdowns, including how to livestream – which was really difficult at first.”

On the other hand: “In terms of day-to-day living it was an absolutely horrific and traumatic experience.” 

Martin said how much he enjoyed playing the Tenby Blues Festival, and we went on to discuss previous shows. One of his most memorable was actually in Moscow:

“Moscow Botanical Gardens was probably the gig I enjoyed the most in my life. It was weird, though, everyone singing in English and I thought, OK, I’ll have a chat with these guys, only to find out they didn’t actually speak it at all!”

I also asked him about his methods of songwriting and recording. 

“Songwriting method? There is none, it’s just go out and see what you can find. 

“It’s easy to write a song. Anyone can do it, but to write thought-provoking lyrics and for it to actually mean something to you, that’s hard. For me it is, anyway. 

“The actual recording process of songs I find especially difficult. They can get ripped apart pretty quickly in a studio. I have a distaste of my own studio and live albums! I haven’t found out how to do it yet. I’m fighting for something that I can leave behind and be happy with, so that when I look back on it in years to come, I can say: ‘Yeah that one was good.’ 

“I have yet to find it, but I’ll get there.”

 That seemed like a real window into the soul of the musician, so I asked him what he does when he isn’t writing and playing music. I wasn’t surprised at the answer.

“That’s a secret! You’ll only get the musician Dom!”

Fair enough. I probably should have expected that. Back to the music… I asked him about representing the UK at the International Blues Challenge.

“People have been great so far, nominating and voting for me in awards, and donating to my GoFundMe fundraiser for the IBC in Memphis. It’s a really expensive trip and I’m still fundraising!”

The live album, Savages, is pretty much on repeat in my office, but if you’re after newer material, the latest album is out on 8 April, just in time for the new Memphis dates.

To find out more about Dom Martin, go to 

I asked him if he wanted to leave us with a message for his fans…

“I’d really like to thank everyone who follows and supports me. Without you guys, there is none of this. 

“If you don’t yet know me, check me out and if you like what I do then please like/follow/subscribe to all my channels! But the most important thing for me is that you enjoy my music and tell your friends. Thank you.”



“Rob Barnes is a writer based in Pembroke. For more about his work,
please go to



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