you would like a unique evening of good food and great entertainment,
visit Tom and Linda Martin's Country Music Highway Cafe in Ashland,
"For five years every time Tom saw a small restaurant he said
it would make a great country music highway cafe," said Linda
Martin. Tom Martin has finally realized that goal because for the last
14 months The Country Music Highway Cafe has been in business in Ashland,
KY. The Highway Cafe is a small town cafe with a homey atmosphere,
good food, and a stage. The cafe
showcases local talent to give the performers in this area a place
Well known local entertainer and Fraternity Recording artist Steve
Free, who plays the singer/songwriter circuit of Festivals, Schools,
and coffeehouses throughout the mid©west, plays there regularly. "I
think it's great what the cafe is doing for the local artists," said
Free. "Tom Martin is an old friend, so I play there at least once
a month with band members Tim McIntire and Nate Free to support Tom."
Another well know singer/songwriter Rob McNerlin from Ashland, KY
is a regular at the Highway Cafe. "It's a good place to try out
new songs," said McNurlin. You can write them that day and try
them out that evening on a live audience."
Other entertainers from Portsmouth who might be seen there are The
Lemon Lilies, J.D. Hurt, Jim Evans, Amanda Murray and Emma Smith.
"There are so many talents that come from this area, we wanted
to honor them all. We started the Highway Cafe as a tribute to all
the talent that has come from this area and is yet to come," said
Besides local talent the cafe stage has held some big name entertainers.
Rickey Scaggs and his band came through and played awhile. The Drifter's
have played at the cafe. Others are Marty
Brown and The Billy Ray Cyrus band. Emmy Lou Harris and her band played
for three hours one night.
The wall of the cafe holds autographed photographs of many well known
stars, most who has passed through and stopped by for a good meal.
When the Judds were in down during Christmas sent an autograph and
their best wishes for success for the cafe.
"People in the industry come here," said Martin, "Promoters,
Representatives from Radio and TV Stations come to see the talent.
Billy Ray Cyrus Fan Club President, who is from Australia, came one
evening and said she didn't want to leave."
The cafe is open to any talent during the week, but showcases the
more well known talent on Friday and Saturday night. No alcohol is
sold in the cafe so the younger talent may have a chance to perform.
There is no age limit, no one is too young or too old.
"I look at it as a well of talent we have in this area," said
Martin. "They take a cupful of this water to Nashville, Los Angeles,
New York and make stars out of these people. But the
well is here. A good example is to take a look at some of the talent,
such as Billy Ray from Flatwoods, The Judds from Boyd County, Rickey
Scaggs from Lawrence County, Loretta Lynn and Christal Gayle from Johnson
County, just to name a few."
"We hope to help new talent to find success, but so many of these
people who are trying to make it have day jobs and can't travel to
Nashville or Los Angeles or New York. We do all we can for them here.
We would like to turn Ashland into the hub of the music industry of
Eastern Kentucky. We have great recording studios here in Ashland.
These people know what they are doing and have Hi Tech equipment to
do it with. The thing they lack in this area is the distribution and
we are working hard to try and do that."
The Cafe works through related enterprises, Rising Star Promotions
owned and operated by Debbie Williams and Misty Marshall Music owned
and operated by Kathy Murphy.
"We are a licensed ASCAP arena and will soon be a licensed PMI
so all copy write material can be performed here," said Martin. "As
well as the printed information given to performers, we draw off the
inter net to help them grow. We want to be part of the industry."
Several of the regular performers have gone on with their careers
from the Cafe. Louis McNeal has a contract for eight of his songs to
be recorded and produced by the management of John Robert Montgomery
and McNeal has been invited to play at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville
"Tim Dixon got his feet wet on the Highway Cafe stage. It was
the first time he had ever performed in front of anyone," said
Martin. "We shopped his music around Nashville because we had
a lot of belief in Tim. He has been invited to play at the Bluebird
Cafe in January."
There are all types of music performed such as blue grass, gospel,
rock. jazz, blues, and folk. Hundreds have performed on the cafe stage
in the last fourteen months. Nurses, several
Bankers, school teachers, hostesses, even a doctor. Anyone who has
"The Cafe has a special place of honor for my best friend, Mike
Murphy, who passed away a year ago," said Martin. "He was
a member of the band Zachariah. Most of Billy Ray Cyrus band members
were former members of Zachariah. Mike Murphy was a song writer on
Billy Ray's first album "SOME GAVE ALL". Murphy coªwrote "Never
Thought I'd Fall In Love With You" which sold 23 million copies
at the latest count."
Looking at plans for the future Tom and Linda Martin would like to
open five more Highway Cafes in different small towns such as Portsmouth,
Pikeville, Prestonsburg and Paintsville.
The Country Music Highway Cafe has no cover charge and serves steak
dinners, shrimp dinners, serves breakfast all the time, home©cooked
cornbread and beans. They also feature memorabilia of the stars in
a corner gift shop.The Cafe is open from 8:00am to 3:00am on weekdays
and on Friday and Saturday is open 8:00am to 4:00am. During the week
the stage is open from 7:00pm to 10:00pm and booked from 10:00pm to
While Linda Martin is the owner of The Country Music Highway Cafe
Tom Martin's title is Artist Developer. They reside in Westwood, Kentucky.