Writer and performer of folk songs, ballads and shanties in the English traditional style.
Performing since 1974 in Britain, Europe and U.S.A.
Debut gig at The Chequers,Lytchett Matravers, Dorset, August 1974 where he performed his first folk composition ‘I Met a Man on the Wareham Road.’
Martin has gigged every year since.
Early solo appearances were at youth clubs, social clubs, working men’s clubs and folk clubs where his performances were met with polite interest as they were much more boisterous than the usual acts on the circuit. Between 1976 and 1978 Martin sent lots of demos to Island Records, he thought his take on folk naturally fell into the burgeoning punk genre.
He was invited twice to talk to the A&R department but as he says” I know they liked by songs and performances because they told me,but they were unsure how to present me to a wider audience.” Undaunted he continued doing gigs and building a local following. His story about encountering a large group of skin heads a week after he had played a folk set at Walton Hop is funny.
In 1986 he formed The Roaring Hundreds,see separate entry,as another vehicle for his songwriting. In September of ’86 they secured a record contract which resulted in an album and ep. The Hundreds continued to gig in one form or another until breaking up, as it turned out for a mere 15 years, until 1999. At this point he resumed solo performances.
In 1999 he self released, under the label name ‘Red Parsnip Records,’ a promo single ‘Canterbury’ following this up in 2006 with a promo E.P. ‘Martin Ledner’ with the aim of securing gigs and festivals as well as trying to attract record company interest.This resulted in independent Kent folk label ‘Hooden Records’ signing him in late 2007 and in January 2008 he went into the studio with producer Alan Cork to work on his debut album
‘My Mistress’s Songbook,’ which was released in 2009 to critical acclaim. This was followed up by ‘Commonwealth’ 2013 (a reference to the self released Roaring Hundreds album of the same name.) ‘Prospect & Hope’ 2015, ‘Curious Lights’ 2016 and the double release ‘ A Journeyman’s Tales’ / ‘Disparate Folk’ 2019.
Martin does augment his sound with backing musicians namely ‘Shouting in the Woods’ and ‘The Disparate Folk.’
His songs though rooted in the past reflect contemporary themes which are of course timeless concerning lives, labours, loves and inequalities.
As with traditional folk songs and songwriters of the past he often reworks his lyrics and tunes producing variants of his songs, following his ethos that a recording is only a record of how a song or songs sounded at that particular time and that it is natural that they evolve and take on new inspirations and evolve. His albums do contain a few songs that have their origins on Roaring Hundreds albums.
In the early days while doing solo folk gigs Martin also played drums in a few diverse Surrey bands: Excalibur, Bobalouis and Punk giants Sham 69 in the mid 70’s and Reaper and Seducer in the early ’80s.
He says that for him there has never been a conflict when it comes to embracing different music “Good music of what ever genre is just that, good music and I love listening and playing all styles.”
He continues to gig doing solo and augmented performances as well as the occasional gig with The Roaring Hundreds.