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NPR Podcaster Features John Arthur Martinez’s Space Trip, More in Highland Lakes Episodes

Learn how a song by local artist John Arthur Martinez ended up in space on 'Journeys of Discovery: From Nashville to Outer Space,' a podcast by NPR's Tom Wilmer. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The story of a recent award-winning podcaster’s visit to Burnet County takes us back to 2007, when local musician John Arthur Martinez met NASA astronaut James. F. Reilly in Fredericksburg.

The mission specialist for STS-117 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis heard a new song from Martinez and Mike Blakely at a winery and introduced himself by giving Martinez his card.

“(I remember) him handing me his card and thinking ‘Jim Reilly, Astronaut, you don’t see many cards that say that,’” recalled Martinez, or JAM as he is known to his fans.

After later showing his wife the card, they looked Reilly up and, sure enough, he was a bona fide astronaut with two previous missions.

Reilly heard Martinez’s song that day and later requested to use it as a wake-up call aboard Atlantis.

“At the time he made the request, the point was we had yet to record it,” Martinez said. “It was that new; we had just written it.”

Blakey and Martinez had made trips back and forth from Nashville to Texas. The song Reilly requested was called “Makin’ Good Time Coming Home.”

Martinez said that, at the time, Nashville was not receptive to their Texas sound. Coming home, the two were looking forward to being home and felt like they were, you guessed it, making good time.

“Because of how much we love the Hill Country. The song is about traveling, being on the road, and missing those you love back home,” Martinez said. “That’s why it struck Jim Reilly so emphatically.”

You can hear the song — off the 2007 album “Blakely-Martinez” — as it’s played for the astronauts in NASA’s online archive. The song was to be played on the crew’s final day in space.

Reilly responds to the wake-up call by acknowledging the song’s origin.

“Good morning, Houston. That song was recorded for us by a good friend out of Marble Falls, Texas, John Arthur Martinez, and it says pretty much what we're thinking up here today. And we're making good time at about five miles a second, and after a challenging and very successful mission, and with Suni aboard, we are looking at coming home,” Reilly said.

The irony is that the shuttle spent an extra day in space because of stormy weather in Florida.

That’s one of the anecdotes Martinez shared recently with an NPR podcast based in California. You can listen to “Journeys of Discovery: From Nashville to Outer Space” on your favorite podcast app. Podcast host Tom Wilmer was part of a Burnet County tourism media tour at the end of October.

“I was surprised that the gentleman chose to focus on me,” Martinez said after hearing the podcast. “I was amazed at how elaborate he went and the songs he used.”

The podcast with Martinez is a 10-minute-28-second listen.

Wilmer focused on another local for a podcast, Fall Creek Vineyards’ winemaker Sergio Cuadra.

Wilmer published a broader podcast of the Highland Lakes titled “Texas Hill Country’s Highland Lakes Getaway.” That podcast is about 39 minutes long.

In it, Wilmer interviewed Burnet County tourism coordinator Andi Ball, Burnet County Judge James Oakley, Painted Sky Inn owner Denise Lewis, Log Country Cove owner Mina Martin, and Perissos Vineyard and Winery sommelier Jeremy Wilson.

You can find more from Wilmer at his website,

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There are 1 comments.

Shelagh Heflin —
Hey John Arthur, You and Mike did a great job on this song. So proud of you both and it's pretty cool that they chose to play your song in space. I'm glad to call you friend.
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