Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Marty Atkinson grew up around tobacco farms and music. He followed his guitar playing older brother to southern California at 17, and by the time Marty was 18 he was already touring the western USA with a well known Bay Area rock band.
From Marty Atkinson’s solid bluegrass roots and romantic Mexican rambles, a search for the perfect romantic life and the harmonies to match it, the original Cactus Choir* was was born. Doug Morris, then head of Atlantic Records, heard their music and signed the band (Marty & Cal Ball) in 1991. Back in Nashville songwriter/producer Tom Shapiro heard the band and flew to California with EMI’s Jimmy Gilmer. Cactus Choir was signed to EMI in an artist development deal and Marty was given a writing deal. Impressed with their harmonies, Producer Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts) was brought into the team and the band was flown to Nashville to showcase. By chance, Mike Curb heard the band rehearsing in Nashville and was so impressed he pushed to sign the band. By this time, Doug Morris had moved to Universal and already had a relationship with Curb. The band changed horses, this time to Curb/Universal.
The debut album on Curb/Universal was a a finely woven blend of Marty’s choral harmonies, first rate songs and great musicianship. The band’s single was in Billboard’s Hot County’s top 100 for 8 weeks. But Country music was loosing market share and acts were being dropped. Curb cut their roster down to only a few artists (Tim McGraw, Leanne Rhymes) and Cactus Choir’s rocky road to stardom had ended.
But in early 2011, Marty Atkinson met up with old friend Katy Boyd, a singer songwriter who was making a name for herself on both sides of the Atlantic as an intelligent songwriter with a lot of stories to tell. The two teamed up to sing, write, play together, and have some fun. The sound and the songs became a marriage of Marty’s southwest ramblings, his beautiful harmonies, his extraordinary musicianship and Katy’s wit and down home bluegrass charm. The result is Blue Cactus Choir and it is South West Bluegrass, a bit of bluegrass and a bit of Cactus Choir.
* Original members of Cactus Choir include Cal Ball, Dave Ristrim & Scott Smith.