Ray Quinn. owner of Martyrs’ in Chicago, where Live was recorded over three nights (August 12 -14) in 1999, posted this to the ATCW group:
When we made that recording, Chris asked me what he should call it. I said: “Just call it Martyrs’.” A couple months later, Kenny called to be sure it was okay that my name was mentioned on the recording and that the venue name was on the title of the record. I said of course, but be sure the apostrophe is after the s. I think they may have already made a run with the apostrophe before the s. That was later corrected. Messenger wanted to be sure everyone knew it was a live record. So they changed the name to Live at Martyrs’.
Writing about the first show, one reviewer noted that
Chris Whitley pushes himself hard, his creative vision harder, and his equipment, it seems, hardest of all. Never mind that Whitley played only acoustic guitars Thursday during the first show of his three-night stand at Martyr’s [sic – Martyrs’]. The demands of his feverishly intense music still proved too much for two amplifiers that blew out before Whitley finished his nearly two-hour set. …. When his amplifiers gave out near the end of a flowing, comparatively easy-going “Poison Girl,” it was as if even his own tools were telling him to ease up a little.
In another ATCW post, Ray gave some background about that blown amp and the recording process:
The first night was hampered by technical difficulties. The amp blew up and we had to find one at the club to get through the gig. Kenny [Helie] and Chris got up early the next day, had Chris’s amp repaired and acquired a backup. Chris sang so well the second night that we knew the record was done and pressure was off. Most of this record came from that second night. I occasionally hang late at the club and crank this record through the same speakers from the original performance. Jon Alagia, Jeff Juliano & Ken Helie did good work. I think we may have been using our old ADAT system in those days.
Articles & Album Reviews
You can access a few articles here.
Interviewed by a local Chicago radio station on August 13, 1999, Chris talks about his 3-show run at Martyrs’ and sings “Wild Country” and “Serve You.” Note that on “Serve You,” Chris sings “migrant GEESE” instead of “migrant wing” — really bad decision/mistake! What possessed him to do that, I just can’t imagine …. Chris also notes that they had tried to record a show in Switzerland as the basis for a live record, but it didn’t work out.
Most awesome CD artwork (from the Fargo release -Thanks to Koyl Noiseengineering for sharing!)