Rock ‘n’ roller Billy Martini doesn’t just have a band—he has a show. The distinction is important. It’s even right there in his name, the Billy Martini Show. He and his band don’t just stand up on stage playing a bunch of rock songs; they have backup dancers, costumes and audience participation.
“There’s a theatrical element,” says Martini. “It’s basically a rock ’n’ roll party. I have a three-piece polyester suit, leather pants, platform shoes, groovy hat, velvet jacket, pants with rhinestones down the sides, stuff like that.”
Some of Martini’s shows are strictly cover sets, while others feature the group’s original material. Even in a cover set, they will still squeeze in a couple of originals, which are generally written by Martini and his guitarist Steve Allison. Their originals are a cross between heavy ’70s stadium rock and ’90s alt-rock.
Martini has played in bands since the age of 13, but until he started the Billy Martini Show 12 years ago, he had always been strictly a drummer. Through the years, Martini found that the biggest roadblock to making it in music was dealing with temperamental singers, so he finally decided to be the lead singer. Since then, he’s been able to consistently write and release original music independently, and build a fan base from the ground up.
“I’m not going to get a record deal,” Martini says. “I’m not a 25-year-old kid. I’m 51 years old. We’re not playing for 10,000 people or getting paid a million bucks, but it sure does feel good. I can go to Reno and 60-75 [people] will show up and watch me play. These are good times. I’ve never been happier.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, July 18. Coasters Bar and Grill, 115 Cliff St., Santa Cruz. 426-3324. Free.