It’s the end of an era of sorts for fans of local music on the North Coast. After 12 years of bringing audiences to their feet to groove to the funky blues sound of Back Bay Betty, the group is disbanding. Front woman Linda Martin is leaving the project to pursue new life and creative endeavors.
“I will miss this epic band big time. My life is now moving into the next phase of dream pursuits, including traveling, spending more time with friends and family and investing more creative energy into my acoustic folk duo, Bay Love,” Martin said in an email sent to fans of BBB.
In addition to the demands of creating music, rehearsals and shows, Martin has worked at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center for 33 years as a critical care RN, and works per-diem at the Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in the emergency room. Added to that she is a single mom of two kids and was taking care of her sick mother, who recently passed away.
“As a single parent, prioritizing my two kids along with being a caregiver for my sweet mama has been number one. Family first, always,” Martin told EBN. “Finding balance between work and fun has been challenging. After the craziness of the pandemic and my mom’s failing health, it’s time to take a deep breath and re-prioritize.”
Part of that reprioritizing is focusing on Bay Love, the acoustic progressive folk duo Martin formed with her partner Kevin Termunde. The couple have been together for five years after a chance meeting at Libertine Pub in Morro Bay where Martin was scoping out a blues jam for a potential new guitarist.
“I spotted a cute guy hanging out against the wall wearing leather with long hair and earrings.” Martin said. “I said to myself, ‘He looks like a guitar player.’ I approached him and introduced myself, quickly learned that he did indeed play the guitar, but also discovered that he lived in LA at the time, so I was out of luck.”
With fate on their side, Termunde moved to the area and happened to be at a BBB gig in Pismo Beach one evening. This time he approached her, and they later started playing together for fun.
As multi-instrumentalists and collaborators, Termunde and Martin write original music and arrange creative covers of songs by artists such as Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchel, John Prine, John Lennon, Joan Baez, and many others.
Bay Love also has a 32-song Joan Baez Tribute Show called “The Lady From The House In The Tree (A Tribute To Joan Baez).” The show is named after one of their original songs and can be seen online at BayLove.net.
“We really resonate with Joan’s message of non-violence, peace activism, unity and social justice.” Martin said. “She lives in Northern California and has had a tree house on her property for many years, hence the title.”
The duo was set to take the Joan Tribute Show on tour, but the pandemic put a stop to that, so they improvised with a live stream event from their home studio on Joan’s 80th birthday. They had more than 1500 viewers and raised a few thousand dollars for the SLO Food Bank in Joan’s honor.
“Fans can now look forward to more opportunities to celebrate one of the most influential musicians on the planet with us live,” Martin said.
As the name implies, Bay Love is, in part, about the many shapes, sizes and sounds encompassing love.
“Music is such a universal language, and it brings people together from all walks of life,” Martin said. “Kevin and I are both health care providers, and we work closely with people with disabilities as well. We recognize and honor the inherent worth in every living thing. We are trying to do our small part to improve the human experience by promoting connection, creativity, love and caring for the planet and each other.”
Although the duo’s music is different in style and energy than BBB, Martin says, at the heart of it all, there are similarities.
“That fan energy is going to be hard to duplicate,” she said. “The gratification of reaching someone with my music, however, touches my soul the same way when I am on stage in either project. I light up with smiling and clapping from a fan on the dance floor, and I also totally dig the eye contact and knowing nod from a listener in a coffee shop. I get off on positive music that brings people together and delivers a message of hope and love for our people. We call that ‘feel good music,’ and it imparts feel good energy to both performers and listeners alike, regardless of genre.”
Twelve years is a long time to bond as a band with life’s ups and downs, tours and recordings. Although Martin is excited about the change in direction with Bay Love, she will miss the boys in the band, so to speak.
“I will miss the close bond I have with the players in the band,” she said. “I will miss our band rehearsals at my place. And, I will miss the energy that I receive from our happy dancing fans.”
The show is not over just yet for Back Bay Betty enthusiasts the band will play a farewell concert at Sea Pines Golf Resort in Los Osos on July 1 from 2 to 6 p.m. Music is free to download at backbaybetty.com, and they will have some free CDs at the concert.
“The band is completely disbanding after our finale concert, but I wouldn’t rule out a reunion show sometime down the road,” Martin teased.
BBB band members, the so-called Betty Boys, will stay strong in the local music scene with various projects as well. For starters, they play together in a Rolling Stones cover band called Tumblin’ Dice.
“Their concerts are always packed with happy smiling dancers who can sing every word of the music — so fun,” Matin said.
Guitarist Rob Espinosa, who has had quite a career playing with many famous people and groups including the San Francisco band It’s A Beautiful Day, plays locally with the group Garden Party and with another Central Coast icon Jill Knight. Drummer Don Utterback and bass player Mark Walters also play with the local band Unfinished With The Beatles. Saxophonist Eric Stever is a “freelancing freewheeler who could just show up at a venue and sit in with pretty much anyone because he is that good,” Martin said. Matt Vargo, the multi-instrumental sound engineer has his own project called Vargo.
In case fans of BBB were wondering just how many instruments Martin plays, the list is a long one including piano and keys, accordion, guitar, melodica, cajon, bongos, and various percussive hand instruments.
“I want to learn the ukulele and the recorder next,” Martin said adding that “A fun dream would be to take a travel nursing assignment somewhere interesting and play folk festivals and shows with Bay Love on my days off.
To check out the sounds of Bay Love, go to baylove.net or on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.