A quiet night in Hollywood with Charlotte Martin at the Hotel Cafe
Back from vacation and back online. Feels good.
After 20 years of songwriting, recording, performing, and children, Charlotte Martin still looks and sounds as young and vibrant as ever – but with an overlay of wisdom and self-confidence that made her almost two-hour performance July 30, at the Hotel Café in Hollywood both familiar and unforgettable.
It was a uncharacteristically quiet Saturday night on Cahuenga Blvd. between Hollywood and Sunset. There was no line of Ubers disgorging beautiful young things in tight dresses and impossible stilettos accompanied by guys trying to make their expensive clothes look casual. There were no exotic sports cars with their tops down and rap-filled sound systems at extra loud. But there was a line of excited fans in the alley behind the Hotel Café, chattering about how much they loved this woman who was at least 15 years their senior but could fit right in with them.
The main stage at Hotel Café (there is a Main Stage and a Small Room ) was not packed, but comfortably full with a quietly murmuring audience. Cheers broke out when Martin strode onstage, wearing a blue silk shirt that matched her hypnotic eyes and set off her glorious mane of long golden hair. She then proceeded to put her full range of concert-level piano playing, operatic vocal control, razor sharp songwriting, and witty patter to full use. And her mom – a concert pianist – mounted the stage to accompany Martin on a few songs. It was pure pleasure.
We heard many of her big hits like “Wild Horses”, smaller songs and new songs, stories about her family, pointed observations on the world at large, and mutual-love conversations between her and fans At one point she even came down off stage and walked over to a table and hugged the women seated there. It was one of the best blends of high level music, wry comedy, and audience connections I have ever seen.
For those of you who may not (yet) know Martin, she grew up in singing in churches, directing show choirs, and competing in beauty pageants (she was Miss Teen Illinois). Trained in opera and piano at college she graduated with 100 + songs already written. So she moved to LA and launched a career that has included a record deal with Beck’s label Bongload Records, a million-dollar recording contract from RCA Records , and a publishing deal with Dreamworks. Fourteen albums, hundreds of songs, licensing deals (include the opening song on “Dance” TV show), and an EP, plus multiple appearances at the Hotel Café and performances around the world later, she is a force of nature and a musical genius.
Sitting back at the Hotel Café on that Saturday night during my vacation was a dream come true. I love the venue, and – like so many others – adore Martin, and it was so good to be back in Hollywood, even on a quiet night.
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