HAPPY BIRTHDAY William “Mac Martin” Colleran born, April 26, 1925
For over fifty years, Mac Martin has led a high quality Bluegrass band in the Pittsburgh area. Although Mac and his Dixie Travelers have not made a large number of personal appearances outside of the region of western Pennsylvania, their quality recordings have won them a dedicated audience among fans of traditional Bluegrass throughout the world. (Ivan M. Tribe)
He used to listen to “hillbilly music” on WWVA and WSM Grand Ole Opry when he was young. Mac Martin got his first guitar at the age of fifteen and soon joined Ed Brozi, performing as a duo. After graduating from high school he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on the island of Okinawa. In the late 1940s, Mac Martin formed his first group the “Pike County Boys” consisting of Bill Higgins, fiddle and Bill Wagner, bass, who began playing regularly on WHJB in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Because there were three “Bills” in the group, Colleran changed his name to Mac Martin. In 1953, the “Pike County Boys” left WHJB. In the mid 1950s, Mac Martin got together with Mike Carson and Billy Bryant and by 1957 the Dixie Travelers was formed. The newly formed group began performing at Walsh’s Lounge in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and did so until 1976. Musicians such as Earl Banner, Slim Jones, Frank Batista, and Bob Artis have all been part of the Dixie Travelers. They recorded for Gateway Records and Rural Rhythm Records. Mac Martin retired September 17, 2015, playing the final concert with his long-time band, the Dixie Travelers, at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.