Martin Beckman was introduced to bluegrass music by Louis Osteen, the older brother of his friend Al Osteen. Louis took the two younger men to hear their first live show, a concert by Bill Monroe at Whispering Pines, Georgia. Beckman would go on to learn the guitar and mandolin. Al Osteen took up the banjo, and together the two young men would play with many musicians in and around Upcountry South Carolina, including Louis Osteen, Larry Jeﬀerson, Van Helms, Lance Leroy, Charlie Moore, and Bill Napier. At a festival in Mountain Rest, South Carolina, Beckman and Osteen met Curtis Blackwell, and they and several friends became Curtis Blackwell and the Dixie Bluegrass Boys.
When the Six Flags Over Georgia theme park opened, Beckman and Osteen played there in the summer of 1968 and formed a group that became known as the Lick Skillets Ramblers, named after an area in Northeast Georgia. The band consisted of Al Osteen (banjo), Frank Greathouse (mandolin), Al McCanless (fiddle), Tom Glenn, Greg Berryman (bass) and Beckman on guitar. Several members went on to form the North Carolina’s “New Deal String Band.”
The group played there until Beckman was drafted at the end of the summer of 1968 and headed off to Vietnam. During a 20-year career of military service, Beckman remained actively involved in music, and while stationed in Germany played in two bands, Kulawee and Stringville. He returned to the Carolinas in 1988.
A resident of Asheville, Beckman plays music with many area friends and bands. He has been involved in the preservation and evolution of the jam founded by the late Nelia Hyatt. His dedication both to music and community is also reflected in his work with the Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM) program in Pickens, South Carolina, and with the YAM Ambassadors Council.