Ottawa’s swamp roots-rockers MonkeyJunk will be packing their bags for Salmon Arm to play this year’s Roots & Blues Festival. (Sean Sisk photo)

Swamp roots rockers stoked for Salmon Arm’s Roots & Blues Festival

Juno-winning MonkeyJunk to close Barn Stage Saturday, Aug. 19

Barb Brouwer/Salmon Arm Observer

Steve Marriner and MonkeyJunk are on a roll.

The band scored their second Juno, this time with the 2018 Best Blues Album.

Named after the album, their current cross-Canada Time to Roll tour is stopping at this year’s Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, which runs Aug. 16 to 19.

Known as Ottawa’s ace swamp roots-rockers, MonkeyJunk is an accomplished trio comprised of Marriner on vocals, harmonica and baritone guitar, Tony D. (Tony Diteodoro) on lead guitar and Matt Sobb on drums and percussion.

A huge movie fan when he was young, Marriner says he was inspired by Back to the Future and a scene in which Michael Fox played Chuck Berry’s Johnny Be Good.

That launched a quest to discover more artists – intensive and extensive research during which he came across Little Walter Jacobs, whom he calls the archetype of electrified blues harmonica.

Related: Roots and Blues plans to lighten the load

“There were other Chicago guys and I got into Chicago blues and rock and roll of the ’50s,” he says, noting he discovered that while blues are regionally similar, there are fascinating geographical differences and different sounds, depending on where they are played and who plays with whom.

“I’ve had an awesome education about the history of music,” he says. “I love learning about obscure artists from the ’50s and ’60s; Marriner started playing the harmonica when he was 11 and as his interest in music grew, he tried piano and guitar. His first gig was with a piano player who excelled in Chicago blues and boogie woogie.

“I’d be going home to try what I saw, teaching myself,” he says of his ability to play several instruments. “It’s important to learn them so I get perspective from every seat on the stage.”

“Tony is king of the castle as far as blues guitar goes,” says Marriner, who started playing harmonica with him in a weekly gig at Ottawa’s legendary home of the blues, The Rainbow Bistro, when he was 13. “It was in the summer of ’98 and I played about the same three songs every week.”

Related: Michael Franti and Spearhead return to Roots and Blues

Marriner stayed friends with Tony D, who had been playing with Sobb since 2001, hiring each other for a variety of gigs over ensuing years.

Bored with what they were doing, the three musicians were jamming together at Tony D’s home in 2008 – just playing the blues with two guitars and the drums, no bass.

“The answer was clear; we got together the following Sunday at Irene’s,” Marriner says of the Ottawa pub that also supports musicians. “We sat down, we had no material written as a band. We just started jamming and people started coming, packing out the bar.”

Marriner says the musicians had no plan or agenda other than getting together on a Sunday night and spending time together making music.

But the fans pushed their own agenda – to listen to MonkeyJunk play.

Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, the band has played in several countries, touring Europe, the U.S. and every corner of Canada.

Related: Family brings San Fran funk sensations to Roots and Blues

Between them, this trio of musical veterans have boosted luminaries from Fabulous Thunderbird Kim Wilson to Buddy Guy, the late Jeff Healey to the lamented Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Mariner has toured with Colin James and will perform with him in his MainStage performance at Roots and Blues.

As well as a pair of Juno Award wins, MonkeyJunk has also scored 21 Maple Blues Awards, two Canadian Independent Music Awards, and a Blues Music Award (USA) for Best New Artist, for 2009’s sizzling Tiger In Your Tank.

The band’s name was inspired by one of Marriner’s idols, delta blues great Son House, who said, “I’m talking about the blues, I ain’t talking ’bout no monkeyjunk!”

Audiences will be blown away by the trio’s blistering mix of soul, grit, humour and harmony.

Catch MonkeyJunk at 10:45 Saturday night as they blow the lid off the Barn Stage, and in a workshop appropriately called Bombs Away, when they’ll share the stage with Colin James, Big Dave McLean and Rick Vito at 4:10 Sunday afternoon at the Blues Stage.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Funding available for caribou habitat restoration

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation is now accepting grant applications

Sagmoen back in Vernon court this week

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will appear on all three Vernon matters this week

Crash temporarily closes Trans Canada Highway near Sicmaous

DriveBC reported the accident at 3 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10

Revelstoke council to hear first proposed cannabis store application

Starbuds would be located at 109 Connaught Ave.

Revelstoke father and daughter venture abroad to teach English

Columbia is trying to increase the number of English speakers

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

Natural gas rates will go up in B.C. on Jan. 1

Regions could pay up to $68 more

Top House Dems raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump

It could be an “impeachable offense” if it’s proven that President Donald Trump directed illegal hush-money payments to women during the 2016 campaign.

Winter rolls into the Okanagan to stay

Environment Canada is calling for two-to-four centimetres of snow from Penticton to Salmon Arm

Macron addresses France amid protests; is it too late?

Paris monuments reopened, cleanup workers cleared debris and shop owners tried to put the city on its feet again Sunday.

CUPE calls off Flair Airlines job action citing job security concerns

The union says it’s going to challenge Flair’s move at the Canada Industrial Relations Board before proceeding with any job action.

Trump looking at several candidates for new chief of staff

Trump’s top pick for the job, Nick Ayers, is out of the running and Trump is now soliciting input on at least four individuals.

Canadian physicist collects Nobel Prize

Canada’s Donna Strickland is one of three winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

Most Read