Sat Eye Candy: Martin Fierro


Meester by Susan J. Weiand
Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the passing of saxophonist and all-around amazing human being Martin Fierro. If you knew him, then the man known to many as "Meester" likely lingers like a good kiss or any other sweet memory that lives in the body and soul. If you didn't know him personally but had experienced a slice of his time and talent in concert, well, you still got a lil' bit of the dude's buoyant energy all over ya. As a member of Zero or Legion of Mary, his jaw-dropping chops were evident, and he rarely failed to make a big impression when he popped up as a guest in the studio- that's Meester blowing life into the Grateful Dead's Wake of the Flood & From The Mars Hotel, The Sir Douglas Quintet's 1+1+1=4 and Mother Earth's Living with the Animals. In the Bay Area, he was a fixture on stages with his own bands but also with the extended family of S.F. merrymakers, and again, he rarely failed to light our collective fire when he played.

While I don't often personalize Saturday Eye Candy, I feel compelled to share the story of the first time I met Martin. It was backstage before a show a few years ago. He burst into the dressing room and barked, "Who's gonna get me high?" His grin was brighter than any bulb in the room and I quickly extended a peace pipe. With that simple, oft-repeated gesture in our circles, I found myself in a beautifully fragmented, multi-hour conversation with one of the coolest, nicest, most quietly brilliant people I've ever encountered. And kids, I've met some giants. What stunned me about Fierro was how none of his pedigree, none of his brushes with stardom had done anything to diminish his raw humanity. When folks talk about the "salt of the earth" they are talking about Meester, even if they don't know it. He made you feel like the moment you were in was the only place to be. His exuberance for living and gusto for music – in the grandest, broadest, deepest sense – was infectious. Even as his health faltered, he still radiated a light few of us will ever produce.

We pause for a moment to remember him and dwell on a few examples of his craft in flight. It is a bittersweet thing but Martin Fierro excelled at bittersweet, showing us the rough and tender in this world through his music and presence. You are mightily missed, senor.

Dennis Cook
JamBase Associate Editor

We begin with one of Meester's signature tunes delivered at ground zero for the modern jam music scene, The Wetlands Preserve.

Does jazz get any better than this?

When he put his mind to it, Fierro gave even Maceo Parker a run in the ol' funk race.

2006 was a really good year for Meester's playing, and anyone who caught the Zero reunion shows that year knows that to be true. Here's a stellar example with Judge Murphy also shining brightly.

While saxophone can be a very forward, out front instrument, Fierro had a way of easing into the musculature of things, as he does on this trip down the "Golden Road."

He didn't sing often but when he did it arrived like a warm breeze, an untutored but thoroughly inviting sound altogether different than the crystalline purity of his sax work.

Singing I die
Bury me,
And I get to sing
At the foot of the eternal Father:
Hence from my mother's womb
I came into this world to sing

excerpt from Argentine poet José Hernández's epic poem Martin Fierro, written in 1872

[Published on: 3/14/09]

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bob sacamano Sat 3/14/2009 09:43AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

bob sacamano

i like the cerventes shirt, martin is the man!

MyFavBandIsTheBestYoursSucks starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/14/2009 12:21PM
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I would like to hear you personalize more Dennis!

lisakat starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/14/2009 01:51PM
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Thank you for writing such a beautiful and personal reflection on Martin the musician and also the human being he was. Everything that you wrote was so true. Yesterday was a tough day reflecting on our loss even though I know that we are all so fortunate to have shared experiences and for some our life with Martin. Jessica and I went to Fort Kronkhite Beach, one of Martin's favorite places to have a picnic dinner and watch the sunset. We reflected on Martin and listened to his music. While Neighbor Neighbor was playing just at the moment the sun started setting came Martin's solo, his solo lasted as long as it took the sun to set. It was a beautiful magical moment indicative of just how bright his spirit and soul still shines. With all our love,

Lisa & Jessica Fierro

pabloMO starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/14/2009 05:23PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Meester is missed. Love

fishbassplayer starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/15/2009 09:43AM
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Lisa & Jessica - My love goes to out to both of you. You don't know me, but my sister-n-law Deb was close to you both. She was Mark's GF, and they both loved Meester immensly. I had the opportunity to hang out with Meester at a couple of Smokedaddies shows at the Blackthorn Tavenn in SF. What a blast it was, watching Meester rip it up in a tiny little bar in SF. Dennis is so right on. Meester was one of the coolest, funny & humble musicians I've ever met. And yes, we enjoyed the peace pipe and talked for quite a while. Meester, we miss you and your awesome human spirit.

marmock starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/15/2009 10:29AM
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Dennis- Thank you for doing this very nice tribute to my friend and brother. It brightened up a very sad day :)

coertje Sun 3/15/2009 01:39PM
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thank you for your article on a musician and person that was dear to so many. thank you, lisa, for sharing yours and Jessica's special celebraton of remembrance of him and saying how his spirit and soul do still shine, Lisa. This man was so full of love. And hearing him and meeting him and time spent with him are some of the best moments of my life, and i carry love for and from him in my heart.

daHIPPY Tue 3/17/2009 04:50AM
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first show wuz fouth street tavern, Zero!!!

im stuck down in tejas now.... miss all my family back der..


EugeneEvon starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/19/2009 01:28PM
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Thanks for the excellent tribute to an amazing musician and even more amazing human. Great sentiments. And thanks for pulling together the videos for everyone. It still hurts for me to watch the GOTV video. The night before he had to fly to that gig, Martin's apartment caught fire (idiots in the upstairs apt were drunk & smoking in bed) and a few of us were helping him salvage/move his smoke & water-damaged stuff. He was already hacking and wheezing from the scene (the place smelled "like really bad bongwater"). He really wanted to make that gig, and it turned out to be extra hard with the crappy weather, and fast turn-around to fly home . . . to a burned out place. Luckily Lisa found a nice place really fast so we could get him situated. With his back trouble, he couldn't move stuff himself, either. Man, we miss him so much.