Tell Me Something: Rich Martin mans the downtown art scene

Richard and Daphne Lee Martin attend the Connecticut Music Awards in Hartford last week, where Daphne was a finalist for best singer/songwriter.
Richard and Daphne Lee Martin attend the Connecticut Music Awards in Hartford last week, where Daphne was a finalist for best singer/songwriter.

Rich Martin is the Managing Director of Hygienic Art galleries and event venue in downtown New London, which has just launched its summer season of concerts and movies. On Thursday from 5-7 p.m., the Hygienic will host the 100th episode celebration of The Day's Live Lunch Break series* with John Fries performing. There will be food and a cash bar.

Martin also serves as president of New London Music Festivals, the non-profit that runs the annual I Am Fest, the Whalie Awards and Traditions among other events. He also owns an old school vinyl shop and recording company downtown called The Telegraph with his wife, musician Daphne Lee Martin. Finally, you can find him lending a hand behind the bar Martin now and then at the venerable Dutch Tavern.

Say you have a modern-day high school locker. Whose picture would be hanging in it?

I've got a huge crush for the pop singer Daphne Lee Martin.

What's your favorite sandwich?

Hands down it's the meatloaf sandwich at Washington Street Coffee House.

You're locked in a museum for a night, which one would it be?

Here in Connecticut it would have to be the Wadsworth Atheneum. It's a really funky and cool collection and they are home to one of my fave paintings of all time: Max Ernst's Europe After the Rain.

What’s your favorite word in a language other than English?

Ras-le-bol. I'm a francophile. Always loved the French and all things Français and I've "had it up to here" with your freedom fries.

Who played at your first live concert?

Styx. It was the "Kilroy Was Here" tour with all its crazy robot-or-man theatrics. First one that really mattered most? Paisley Jungle at Roll On America - bought my first bass and started a band after that one!

Sorry to have to tell you this, but an asteroid is going to wipe out all humanity next week. So, what’s your last meal and who is coming to dinner?

We tend to go big for parties in our home so I'd probably invite the whole city over and call it a potluck. May as well have as much variety as possible at the end, no?

What’s was the first album you ever bought and where did you buy it?

I got a $50 bill for my birthday and went to Caldor in Groton and purchased The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," Styx's "Paradise Theater," and two singles - Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll" and J. Geils Band's "Centerfold." The b-side to that last one, "Rage in the Cage" still rules.

Who is on your Mount Rushmore of bass players?

Peter Hook of Joy Division, Peter Hook of New Order, Noel Redding of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the inimitable Charles Mingus.

Other than your smartphone, name an item you can’t live without:

I can live without my smartphone, I know I can, please take it away.

Item you should live without and keep meaning to get rid of:

I can't get rid of anything in this life. I'm a pack rat and a collector and just this side of a hoarder.

You’re a DJ at club. What’s the night’s last song?

Either "Fool's Gold" by Stone Roses or "Blue Monday" by New Order. Gotta keep the party going as long as possible.

What’s the last television show you binge-watched?

Halfway through "Dexter" at the moment but the last full run was the incredible "House of Cards." I'm a total political junky so this show is pure ecstasy to me. Still can't believe they killed off Zoe though - just awful! ... Wait, should I have said "spoiler alert" before saying that?

What poem have you read more than any other?

T.S. Eliot's 'Four Quartets' - an incredible meditation on time, reality, and faith. I always find some peace and solace reading it, and it reaffirms that in so many ways it's the questioning, not the knowing, that matters in life.

If you present day you could give advice to younger you, what would it be?

Embrace life and live it to the fullest. Everything's going to be ok.

Last book you couldn’t put down:

"How to Manage Non-Profits in the 21st Century" - not too sexy but it reaffirmed a lot about the reality of my life.

What’s a word you can never spell correctly on the first try:

Seperate, wait, no, i mean separate... ugggh.

Which movie, television show or theatrical production most accurately depicts life as managing director of Hygienic Art and a record shop owner?

“Groundhog Day” as produced by Fellini.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee but it needs to be a good strong roast not some gas station colored water.

Saturday night or Sunday morning?

For me that's usually considered one period of time.

Golden Street in New London or “Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion” by The Grateful Dead?

Ahhh, well ya know, there's a pretty cool record store here on said street in New London where you can experience both at the same time.

Anagrams or palindromes?

I'm an 'avid diva' when it comes to palindromes.

What is your pet peeve?

Singular? Is it possible to have just one? Litter bugs, people who don't recycle, overly loud motorcycles, “panhandlanding,” dog poop on sidewalks...

What historical event would you like to have witnessed?

I would have loved to hear Martin Luther King preach or give a speech in person. These days we are so desperately lacking in leaders with a vision of shared community and the ability to give it voice for all to celebrate.

What is your favorite place in Connecticut to recharge or find serenity?

I just take a stroll down to the Waterfront Park here in New London. It's an amazing vista of energy, transportation and an incredible passageway to the open sea. Add in the Charles W. Morgan or the Eagle and its hard to not wax poetic and see everything in a more positive light. I feel truly blessed to live in this incredible city.

Who alive today do you most admire?

Anyone who is pursuing a their dreams to the fullest and not letting life hold them back. Life's too short and we are all heroes and superstars.


* This series celebrates local music and local musicians. You can view the complete archive of Live Lunch Break performances here.

Tell Me Something is a weekly awesome Q&A which features interesting people doing interesting things.


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