Chicago, the home of electric blues, not only birthed a genre that would go on to change the face of music, it is also the birthplace of musician Van Gordon Martin.
Martin’s grandmother played the guitar, the musical gene strumming its way through to her grandson who began his musical journey when he was 7 years old. Displaying versatility in his use of instruments, as well as an openness to reach to the roots, Van found himself amidst elders who led him down the road of true reggae beats and was received by a welcoming community of healing.
As an American reggae artist, Martin was brought into a community where he received insight into not only a form of music but also a community of Rasta elders who birthed an art form through oppression with a need and yearning for social change. Martin has made this his life’s passion, explaining, “I have the responsibility as a human and an artist to use my voice to stimulate change by creating music with a purpose that brings a message.” As we find ourselves on the brink of social change, now is the time as both artists and humans to take responsibility for ourselves and accountability for our actions to change for the better.
In 2002, Van moved to Massachusetts where he attended the internationally acclaimed Berklee School of Music. It was during this time that connections were made that brought Van, along with his musical talents, to the state of Maine. He was welcomed by a community of artists who received him openly, and he soon became a household name among the locals. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist who began his musical journey playing the guitar, Van found a home for his sound in the busy streets and soul in the beautiful valleys of Maine — a state where art and freedom are celebrated, creating the perfect platform for artists of all walks to find their place among those who choose to heal through ART.
Van went on to start his international touring career in 2004, later going on to tour with several of his musical heros, like Steel Pulse, Toots & The Maytals, and The Skatalites. But he always found his way back to Maine, drawn back to the musical community, as well as the quality cannabis grown organically. Being of the belief that cannabis, when grown consciously, can be used as a healing tool through experience with depression and anxiety, Van says, “I am a strong supporter of cannabis medicine. Good, clean, organically grown medicine should be accessible to those in need.”
Finding that both the Maine musical community, alongside the Maine cannabis community, paved a way to creating opportunities and forming lasting friendships, Van forged a special friendship with owner and breeder of Best Friend Farms, Bryon Fortin. While performing two years ago at a Slightly Stoopid afterparty with music group Organically Good Trio in which Van plays lead guitar — a friendship was molded when Bryon, who is a caregiver and has personally healed with cannabis, gifted Van a nug of Lemon Cream, which tastes and smells just like it sounds. It’s a medicine grown regeneratively with conscious hands tending flower that heals with each puff. This friendship opened doors to firsts for both friends:Organically Good Trio was the first East Coast Band to have a cannabis strain named in their honor, and a first for Master Breeder Bryon Fortin, who created OGTangie (Organically Good Tangie), a cross between Angel’s Tangie (Angel Food cake x Tangie) x Tropicanna Cookies. The strain had her release party in February of this year and saw a turn out neither could have imagined — a message that right now we as a people need to go back to our roots, finding healing of our minds, bodies, and souls through clean medicine and conscious music. This kind of healing is sweeping across the globe, something Van highlights as being the vision for his latest single, “Calling Out,” a mission statement for Universal Love for all people, making efforts towards living a heart-centered existence through music and meditation, with the assistance of organic medicine.
Van plays full time with his own band “Van Gordon Martin,” as well as in Organically Good Trio and Dub Apocalypse, in addition to playing guitar for hip hop legend Big Daddy Kane, Club D’elf, Mighty Mystic, Naya Rockers, and many more. He extends his knowledge and musical talents and shares his wisdom with those with the desire to learn. During the f pandemic, Van has been giving guitar lessons via Zoom to young children, who during this time are experiencing a wealth of feelings and needing to understand those feelings are valid and that they can do anything channeling those feelings into art.
As art and healing find their way through the chaos of change, Van plans to host private gigs across the state this summer.
Check out Van’s latest single, “Calling Out,” on all music platforms. “I feel tremendously grateful for the Maine music community and the Maine cannabis community’s support of music, using this time to grow together with this movement,” Van says. Organic cannabis helps us get in touch with animal spirits and nature; getting in touch with our roots is what will bring healing to our nation.