Rikki Thomas-Martinez is a songwriter and guitarist born in the UK from a Spanish mother and a Welsh father. He grew up speaking Spanish, English and French and interchangeably and living in the UK, Spain and France. Rikki took to the electric guitar as a young man in the late 70’s, inspired by bands like Led Zeppelin and artists like Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan. As an electric guitarist Rikki realised that in order to perform he’d always need a band. He found the solution to this after borrowing a nylon string guitar from a friend: It was love at first strum.
A love of songs, a desire to be self contained and to discover who he was a musician led Rikki to seek his voice. To get the root of his musical self he stripped everything back to the bare necessities and in the early 80’s headed off into Europe to find the song of his soul with nothing to sustain him but his guitar, his eagerness to explore and a feeling that he was on the right path. The stripped down nature of making music with nothing more than a wooden box with strings and his voice along with the hand to mouth existence of the itinerant musician enabled Rikki to explore his music in it’s most pure form.
Rikki hitched, ending up wherever the ride took him and busked to keep going. Staking his survival on his success Rikki had to sing and play to carry on. It was during this time that he found that his musical voice sung mainly Spanish. This surprised him given that so much of the music he’d loved when growing up was British and American rock music. He had to be true to himself and give voice to the music that was truly his so he hitched, wrote and sung himself round the continent discovering the musician he was and learning from the lives and events that intersected with his along the way.
After finding his voice and honing his craft on the road the itinerant lifestyle eventually brought Rikki to Nottingham where he found his band, Mas Y Mas and his home. Rikki has been at the heart of Mas Y Mas since 1994 where he continues to write, perform and explore the musicality that lies at the heart of who he is.
Recently he has fallen in love with the harmonica and this has given a new and exciting sonic layer to Mas Y Mas.
Rikki also performs as a solo musician, singing, playing guitar and harmonica.
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Rikki was mentored by El Entri, on of Spain’s leading Flamenco master and educator for many years. In 2004 Rikki made a film homage to his friend and teacher.
Rikki in Education
In his education work Rikki specialises in song writing, singing and music making using English, Spanish and French in a creative and engaging context. His performances are inspiring, lively and interactive – an exciting opportunity to experience a professional musician perform and open the door to his musical world. The workshops concentrate on music, languages, literacy, and the promotion of positive behaviour through issue based material.
Rikki has specifically composed most of the material he uses in schools and develops the learning of languages, provides new cultural experiences and promotes positive behaviour through song. The performance also includes an exploration of a variety of exciting and unusual instruments.
Rikki was taught and mentored for many years by on of Spain’s greatest flamenco masters and teachers, El Entri and has also had a strong connection with many Cuban musicians, such as Chaquito and Melquidades Fundora. For many years, Rikki has organized and delivered a wide range of educational projects and inset sessions for Local Education Authorities, Youth Music, Creative Partnerships, Sheffield Children’s Festival, The Firebird Trust, La Jolie Ronde and Wider Opportunities. He works with all age groups and abilities in the UK and internationally and has composed music and songs for young people which have been learned and performed by students and teachers all over the world.
Rikki has also collaborated with many other artists to create multi-disciplinary projects and performances of the highest standards, he has worked notably with:
- Shobna Gulati – Actress and dancer.
- David ‘Stickman’ Higgins – Poet, musician and actor.
- Graham Forde – Filmmaker.
- Gary Hammond – Percussionist.
- Interactive Performances and Taster Sessions
- Workshops and Projects
- Recording and Music Production
- Inset and Training Sessions
- Educational Resources
Tel: 07988 430 145
Or email from here (Click)
About My Guitar
I commissioned a guitar from my friend, Jorge de Gubia, one of Spain’s finest luthiers. Jorge, originally from Poland, and trained by his father, an expert luthier, accordion maker and virtuoso settled in Madrid 20 years ago. Since then he has produced guitars, violins and other stringed instruments second to none for Spain’s top musicians. In particular, guitarists from the Flamenco scene have been quick to see the unsurpassable quality of his work and many of the greats, including El Entri use his guitars. At the time he operated from an narrow but long workshop in the Alto de Extremadura district in Madrid. A veritable heaven for any guitar lover. Hanging all around the workshop were guitars in various stages of their creation, shelves full of planks of amazing woods and here and there a beautiful shining finished wooden box of joy.
Amongst the dust, wood shavings, strange tools and varnishes Jorge was often to be found chatting with gypsy guitarist or a member of one of Madrid’s orchestras. An immensely likeable and knowledgeable man, it was easy to spend days watching him work and talking about the multitude of subjects from woods to genetics that interest him.
Before I got to Madrid in the October 2005, I ruminated deeply over what sort of guitar I wanted Jorge to make me. This included a couple of dreams where Jorge was measuring my fingers and hands! I decided upon a guitar for stage use, small and comfortable in the body, with a cutaway and a plug in pickup system. When I got to see him, he did indeed measure my hands – although no rulers were involved as Jorge seems to have an internal micrometer in his eyes. For the back and sides I chose ‘Coco bolo’, an African hardwood and Spruce for the top.
The pickup system I decided upon was a Fishman Prefix PROBlend Narrow. I have one on my other guitar and find it gives a good live sound with effective feedback control.
For more information on Jorge de Gubia, his website is http://www.artluthier.com
For amplification Rikki uses a Fishman Loudbox Performer
Rikki uses a Digitech guitar multi-effects and for solo gigs, a BOSS RC-50 Looper.