Barrett Martin

Barrett Martin (born April 14, 1967) is an American composer, percussionist, writer, and Latin Grammy award-winning producer. He is best known for his work with the Seattle rock bands Skin Yard, Screaming Trees, Mad Season, Tuatara, and Walking Papers. Martin has also played on albums by R.E.M., Stone Temple Pilots,[1] Luna, and Queens of the Stone Age.

Barrett Martin
Background information
Also known as"The Bear"
Born (1967-04-14) April 14, 1967 (age 54)
Olympia, Washington, U.S.
OriginSeattle, Washington
GenresAlternative rock, modern jazz, jazz fusion, Delta blues
Occupation(s)Writer, Composer, Producer, Artist
InstrumentsDrums, percussion, upright bass, piano, vibraphone, marimba
Years active1987–present
LabelsColumbia, Cruz, Epic, Sunyata Records & Books
Associated actsBarrett Martin Group, Levee Walkers, Mad Season, Queens of the Stone Age, R.E.M., Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, Tuatara, The Desert Sessions, Walking Papers

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) bestowed Martin the 2014 Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for his liner notes in Above by Mad Season (Deluxe Edition).[2] In 2017, Martin won a Latin Grammy for his production and percussion work on the album Jardim-Pomar by Nando Reis.[3]


Martin was born and raised in Olympia, Washington. He studied jazz and classical music at Western Washington University[citation needed] before dropping out to play music professionally. He later completed his bachelor's and master's degrees in anthropology, linguistics, and ethnomusicology at the University of New Mexico.[citation needed]

Martin joined Skin Yard as a drummer in 1990 and made two albums with the band, 1000 Smiling Knuckles (1991) and Inside the Eye (1993). When Skin Yard broke up, Martin was asked to fill the vacant drum seat in another Seattle band, Screaming Trees. The Screaming Trees made three studio albums with Martin, Sweet Oblivion (1992), Dust (1996), and Last Words: The Final Recordings (2011) before calling it quits in June, 2000. Last Words: The Final Recordings was produced by Martin and mixed by Jack Endino.

In 1994, Martin formed the supergroup Mad Season with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, and Chicago blues bassist Baker Saunders. The band released its debut album Above in 1995 and played only a handful of local shows before disbanding. Martin and Peter Buck of R.E.M. then founded the revolving-door music project Tuatara in 1996. Tuatara released nine albums until disbanding in 2014.

In March 2000, Martin was ordained as a Zen monk in the Soto tradition through the Detroit Street Zen Center in Los Angeles.[citation needed] Martin then started Sunyata Records & Books, an imprint label and book publishing company distributed by Sony Music, in 2001.

Martin released his first solo album, The Painted Desert in 2004, as the Barrett Martin Group. He followed up with a second album, Earthspeaker in 2006. A third solo album, Zenga, was released in 2009, followed by the albums Atlas (2011), Artifact (2012), Transcendence (2018), and Songs Of The Firebird (2019).

In 2011, he was appointed as an adjunct professor of music in the liberal arts department at Antioch University in Seattle.

Barrett formed a new group named Walking Papers in 2012. The band included Seattle musician Jeff Angell, bassist Duff McKagan, and keyboardist Benjamin Anderson. The band released its self-titled debut album on Martin's Sunyata Records in 2012. In 2013, Martin started writing a music and culture blog for The Huffington Post.[4] He currently writes essays for the politically progressive web magazine, Riot Material.

In April 2016, Martin announced the formation of a new group, Levee Walkers, with band members Duff McKagan and Mike McCready. Martin has produced albums for the Welsh band Buffalo Summer, delta blues legend CeDell Davis, and Seattle singer-guitarist Ayron Jones.[citation needed]

In 2017, Martin married Lisette Garcia, a psychologist and Latino Studies expert who also plays percussion in the Barrett Martin Group. [citation needed]

In 2017, Martin published his first book, The Singing Earth. The book contains a collection of musical adventure stories taken from Martin's work over the course of 30 years on 6 continents and 14 different musical regions.[citation needed] In 2019, he published his second book, The Way of the Zen Cowboy, which contains 35 short, non-fiction stories from his childhood up to the present.[citation needed]


Barrett Martin Group

  • The Painted Desert – 2004
  • Earthspeaker – 2006
  • Zenga – 2009
  • Atlas – 2011
  • Artifact – 2012
  • Transcendence - 2018
  • Songs of the Firebird - 2019
  • Indwell - 2019

Mad Season

Screaming Trees

Shipibo Shamans

  • Woven Songs Of The Amazon - 2006
  • Woven Songs Of The Amazon II - 2019

Skin Yard


Walking Papers


Film soundtracks

  • Even the Devil Gets the Blues – 2016
  • Woven Songs of the Amazon – 2006
  • Ausangate – 2006
  • The Fog Ravens – 2003
  • Lush – 1999
  • The Best Men – 1999
  • Deceiver – 1998