The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

‘Little Marty,’ Martin Schechter, dies at 60

Martin Schechter with daughter Nataneh, in September.
 
By JOHN ROCHE and R.J. MARX


Martin Peter Schechter, a well-known figure on the local music scene and the friendly face behind the counter at Steger’s Paper Mill in Katonah for many years, died Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 60. 

“Little Marty of the Greenville Glide,” as he was known in the blues world in which he was such a familiar face, was one of the organizers and hosts of weekly blues jams at various locales throughout northern Westchester. After years of corporate life, Mr. Schechter abandoned that in the 1990s to pursue his passions

“My father was so many things to so many people; most importantly, he was always a good friend,” said his daughter, Nataneh Schechter. “One of the most genuine people I have ever known, he was completely honest. He lived such a multifaceted life as a fine artist, musician and most importantly the most caring and loving of fathers. He loved his children more than anything else, then came his music. He had one of the best smiles in town and was a true people person.”

Over the years Mr. Schechter was a familiar face at the Katonah Grill, the Tap House in Bedford Hills, Restaurant 353 in Mount Kisco, Fitzgerald’s and Katie Mac’s in Mount Kisco, and many more venues. His jams were known for being open to all, and one of the few blues opportunities for miles around.

“Marty grounded this fancy town in something quite real,” said singer-songwriter Marc Black of Katonah. “I’d go down to Stegers to get a paper just to talk to him for a few. I knew him first as a business man who rode the train with me, then as a painter who designed one of my CD covers, and finally, as a blues player who truly loved and understood the blues. Katonah has lost a treasure.”

“Marty evolved from a friend to a good friend to a big brother for me,” said fellow musician Gary Schwartz, a drummer who helped organize the popular weekly jams. “Over the past 14 years or so we not only played together but became very, very close. He was affectionately called ‘Little Marty,’ but he was a big man with a big heart who will leave a big void behind.”

Mr. Schwartz said he first met Mr. Schechter in the Tap House, a bar across from the Bedford Hills train station. “At some point I commented about a piece of art on a wall, and Marty told me he was a painter. My father was in the fine arts — painting and photography, especially — and that brought our friendship to a deeper level. He was a really gifted painter, educated at Carnegie Mellon University, who painted portraits in oil of jazz and blues musicians that were used as the splash pages for Guitar Player magazine.”

After a fire destroyed the Tap House in 2002, Mr. Schechter joined with other musicians to help proprietors Frank and Carl Cavalaro get back on their feet. They reopened the next year.

Mr. Schechter proved an advocate for musicians throughout the years. When the town board revoked the Katonah Grill’s cabaret license in 2007, Mr. Schechter went before the board. “If they were trying to fix the problems they say exist at the Grill, this isn’t the way to do it,” Mr. Schechter said. “Not only am I a musician but I’ve been a bouncer for many years, and the bar owners and staff at the Katonah Bar and Grill take what they do very seriously. There may be some problems, but it’s not because of how the bar is run, and it’s definitely not because of the weekly jam or the other live music there.”

And when fellow musician Mr. Schwartz was in need of medical assistance, Mr. Schechter helped organize fellow musicians to come to the drummer’s aid.

There was a lot to Mr. Schechter that people might not have known. “Marty was the type of person who wouldn’t necessarily open up about himself to anyone, but once he did, you saw just how deep his passion and talent ran in lots of areas, from music to art to martial arts,” Mr. Schwartz said. “I’m so glad that he let me in on the incredible person he was.”

Mr. Schwartz said while Mr. Schechter was always a fan and student of traditional blues, in the mid-’90s he started to play guitar again more seriously, including at the Tap House. “He grew quickly both as a soloist and as a band leader, and in the course of only a few months Marty started hiring some of the professional musicians to play in his band, Little Marty and the Greenville Glide. That band, which I eventually became the first-call drummer for, became one of the best-loved bands in this area.”

Although he had physical strength and trained in the martial arts, Mr. Schwartz said that even as a bouncer, Mr. Schechter tapped into his inner strength to quell any problems at clubs where he worked security. “Like with most things, Marty used his smile, his kindness and his gentle touch to avoid having to get physical when problems arose,” he said.

In the years he worked at Steger’s Paper Mill, customers came to know him for playing the Delta blues on the sound system, as well as dispensing tidbits about music and wisdom to any and all.

Mr. Schwartz said he hopes that people turn out for a blues festival that will be held in Mr. Schechter’s honor on Dec. 18. The proceeds from the concert, which features a lineup of 12 acts so far, will be given to Mr. Schechter’s family to help pay for his medical bills and other expenses.

Little Marty’s Big Blues Fest, Vol. I, in Mr. Schecter’s honor, is scheduled for next Sunday at Katie Mac’s in Mount Kisco. Mr. Schwartz said the event will be the first installment in an ongoing series of daylong events featuring blues and other music that will be held in the future in memory of Mr. Schechter.

The Dec. 18 benefit features the music of Geoff Hartwell, Petey Hop, the Chris O’Leary Band and many more.

“I hope people come join with us in doing the right thing for a guy who always knew how to do the right thing,” Mr. Schwartz said. “It’s a day and night of music for a guy who loved sharing his music with others.”

Visiting hours will be held at Clark Associates Funeral Home in Katonah today from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Burial will take place at South Salem Cemetery located at 11 Main St. in South Salem on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 10:30 a.m.


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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center;
    294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center;
    280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    


South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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DECEMBER 9, 2011