Berkshire musicians pay tribute to guitarist, Pittsfield native who died in crash

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Berkshire musicians on Monday remembered Pittsfield native Jeff Martell as a mentor who was always welcoming and supportive of other players.

Martell, 50, was killed Friday in a head-on collision on Route 20 in West Springfield . He was driving from his home in Northampton to perform at the Backwater Grille in Canaan, N.Y.

"He was one of my mentors," guitarist Tor Krautter said Monday. Krautter, leader of the Rev. Tor Band, said it was "still difficult to talk about him."

"He was truly one of a kind," Krautter said. "A powerful, gentle soul that I admired very much. He taught me the art of the [being a] solo acoustic musician and he was always there with a good word and for support."

Martell was one of two people killed in the accident, according to state police. A Springfield man, Benjamin Stulpin, 24, also was killed. Two other vehicles were damaged trying to avoid the collision, but there were no other injuries, state police said. The accident remain under investigation.

Martell was a veteran of the Western Massachusetts music scene and played gigs throughout the region, including the Berkshires. He was born in Pittsfield and learned to play guitar at age 5. Martell became part of Pittsfield's burgeoning 1980s music scene while still in high school.

Bassist Daniel Broad, of Cheshire, first encountered Martell in the late 1980s when Martell was hosting an open mic night at the former La Cocina restaurant in Pittsfield.

"Jeff was always very welcoming and very supportive of the performers," said Broad, who played in several bands with Martell, including the East Creek Band.

"He was a really good musician," Broad said. "He played electric guitar, acoustic guitar, violin and harmonica. He wrote a lot of songs. He had a lot of original material."

Martell is survived by a son, Elijah Parker-Martel, his girlfriend, Jessica Lapinski of Northampton, his ex-wife Polly Parker of Northampton and his mother, Rosemary Martell of Greenfield.

"He passed the way most troubadors should probably go," longtime friend Drew Lopinzina posted on Facebook. "On his way to the next gig."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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