Martin Lee Cropper

Martin Lee Cropper was a young man of 22 when he saw Leo Kottke live at the Perth Concert Hall.

He had been playing in bands for almost 10 years but nothing prepared him for the miracle that is Leo Kottke.

All Martin knew for sure was that whatever Leo was doing Martin wanted to be able to do too. Problem was Martin had no clue how to go about it.

He gave it a good red hot go anyway...

Martin bought a 12-string acoustic and set about tackling a mysterious thing called claw hammer guitar that he'd been told was the name of the guitar style Leo used. He sat in his bedroom scratching away with the fingerpicks he'd bought... nice try... but no deal.

The fingerpicks went in the drawer and he joined some friends in yet another band, this time playing new wave music.

Twenty years later Martin heard Mississippi John Hurt for the first time and knew he'd found his teacher. He played something called Piedmont Country Blues and whatever he was doing Martin knew he had to do it too. He played with skin... he didn't use fingerpicks.

So Martin didn't use them either. He learned John's style and the poor old fingerpicks stayed in the drawer.

In the years that have followed Martin has sought CDs and DVDs of performances by the blues masters that have enabled him to study with John Hurt, Tampa Red, Robert Johnson, Mance Lipscomb, Lightning Hopkins, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Robert Wilkins, Tommy Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Skip James, Scrapper Blackwell, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sylvester Weaver, Muddy Waters, Casey Bill Weldon, Charlie Patton, Sam Chatmon, Son House, Pink Anderson, Big Bill Broonzy, Bob Brozman, Harry Manx and Ernie Hawkins.

And yes... Martin did get back to Leo.

Most recently he's started to scratch the surface of the sublime, amazing guitar work of Blind Blake... master class for blues enthusiasts.

Martin doesn't play blues covers but rather uses the old techniques he's learned to write his own songs and instrumentals.

His mandate is to write a new body of authentic, old style Country Blues using the guitar styles he has assimilated as a basis. The work is going well and he currently has a playlist of some 100-plus original tunes.

Find out more

Contact -

Deborah Birch

Phone: 08 9761 2081


PO Box 87 Bridgetown WA 6255


Most photos courtesy Deborah Birch Photography