MonkeyJunk lead singer Steve Marriner and his band mates describe themselves as “three ordinary guys from Ottawa, Canada.” But spend just a few minutes listening to Marriner, drummer Matt Sobb and Canadian guitar legend Tony D., and you’ll likely agree: their sound is quite extraordinary.
“We’ve always had a hard time defining our music,” Marriner said. “We like to experiment with a lot of different things: Chicago Blues shuffle, New Orleans groove, straight up rock and roll. It’s less about soloing, and more about concise playing. We’re a blues band who pushes boundaries.”
Marriner was just 13 years old when he first performed with Tony D (for Diteodoro).
“I started playing harmonica when I was 11, and was a big fan,” Marriner said. “I asked my dad to take me to some clubs, and I approached him.”
That was just the beginning of a long and successful musical partnership.
The year was 2008. Marriner and Diteodoro were playing the club scene in Ottawa, but wanted to try something different. Their idea: to create a band using only guitars and drums.
“I was playing baritone guitar, focusing on rhythm-type patterns,” Marriner said. “We thought it would be cool to have a band with no bass.”
The two asked Matt Sobb, a drummer they’d been jamming with for years, to join the group, and MonkeyJunk was born. The group’s debut CD, “Tiger in Your Tank” came out in 2009. Just a year later, MonkeyJunk won the “Best New Artist” at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tennessee.
“It was a big deal for us,” Marriner said. “At the time, we were the only living Canadians to ever win a blues award.”
The last weekend in June, MonkeyJunk will bring its unique mix of grooves and swampy blues to Grand County. Though Marriner has played in Colorado before, this year’s “Blues from the Top” festival marks the band’s first performance in Winter Park.
“We’re excited,” Marriner said. “The lineup is really strong, and we’re impressed with the effort put into the project.”
Festival organizer John Catt is excited too. “Steve Marriner is one of the most impressive musicians I have ever met,” he said.