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If you meet Steve Marriner, Tony D or Matt Sobb on the street you’ll be chatting to three ordinary guys — the sort of folk who’ll stand you a beer at a local pub, or give you a cigarette if they have one.

But between them, they make extraordinary music — a tough-assed hybrid of blues, rock and roll and jam-band grooves that doesn’t quit. This is music that makes you wanna dance, but has real substance.

The band’s called MonkeyJunk (one word, folks, with a capital J in the middle). And with the late September release of All Frequencies, their second album for Stony Plain Records, the door is opening for the next stage of what is already a remarkably successful career — the band won no less than five 2014 Maple Blues Awards.

Steve, Tony and Matt are based in Ottawa, probably the least likely place for a band that makes music this tough. Ottawa is not only Canada’s buttoned-up seat of government, but has a rep for being a closed, insular town where there’s not much of a music scene.

Not quite true, the trio will tell you. There is a blues scene, a couple of active clubs, a hard-working blues society and some major festivals. And that all helped the band get started.

A familiar story: A solid music scene and good friends jamming together

And the story, in some ways, is a familiar one. All three musicians were familiar faces on the local scene, in and out of a half a dozen bands between them. Steve had earned his stripes as the best harmonica player in town, and was a passionate, convincing singer; he’s also toured the world with guitar genius Harry Manx and played on countless recording sessions. Tony D was the local go-to guitar slinger and bandleader, released his own solo albums, and had a long collaboration with the late Dutch Mason. And Matt Sobb had played for half a dozen years in a band that Tony had fronted, as well as with just about everyone else who played music in Ottawa … Oh, and they didn’t want a bass player…

That's right, no four-string axes allowed, and they do just fine without 'em, Marriner favoring the lower end of his baritone, straddling the divide. The band specializes in dirty, low-down, irresistible rhythms and beats made all the greasier by Tony D's slide work. – Mark S Tucker, http://www.acousticmusic.com/fame

Over late night drinks after a jam in spring 2008, the three of them realized that, between them they’d been playing blues-influenced music for well over half a century; maybe they should form a trio. Taking their name from an assertion from blues pioneer Son House that he was “talkin’ about the blues; I ain’t talkin’ about monkey junk” they set out to make their first record, an independent release called Tiger in Your Tank.

But before the record was even released, MonkeyJunk hit the road. Playing what they described as a contemporary blend of “swamp R&B, soul boogie and bedroom funk” they criss-crossed Canada — and six months later, the brand new band was nominated for a Maple Blues Award, before the debut record was even released.

A few months later, MonkeyJunk represented their hometown at the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis, competing amongst 100 bands from Poland, Croatia, Norway, Italy, Israel, Sweden, France, Australia, and North America. After the smoke cleared on Beale Street, MonkeyJunk had placed third.

Their music is as true blue as the blues can get: there is simply no way in Heaven or Hell that Son House would have thought them anything but the real deal. — Spider Robinson, science fiction novelist

That sort of initial success has continued. A year later, in Memphis, the first indie release earned “Best New Artist debut” at the annual Blues Music Awards ceremony. Since 2010, closer to home, the band and its individual members have been nominated for nearly 25 Maple Blues Awards — and won a total of 20 them.

Their second album, named To Behold — the first Stony Plain release — upped the ante even further, winning a prestigious Juno Award as Blues Recording of the Year. Not to mention half a dozen Maple Blues Awards nominations, and winning Recording of the Year and Electric Act of the Year honours, while Matt was chosen Drummer of the Year.

Keeping the band’s winning streak moving forward

All Frequencies is likely to keep the band’s winning streak moving forward. Compared to To Behold, released in 2011, the new record offers a wider range of musical influences. There are four songs co-written with other writers (good friends Paul Reddick and Matt Chaffey) and a swamp-laden version of a Bobby Charles tune, “Why Are People Like That?”

Blues? For sure — but the band, over a beer, will tell you there’s much more. There’s some greasy rock and roll and a hot new single — “You Make a Mess.” Add in a lot of uptown folk, a tiny taste of Appalachia, some stunning effects-laden guitar work from Tony D and a jam-band finale (the seven-minute “Swank”).

MonkeyJunk’s new offering shows off a band with a strong sense of identity, and a tough and confident identity it is. (The band) delivers track after track of sinewy, serious blues-rock, highlighted by lead vocals and songwriting that are head and shoulders above the journeyman pack. Likely to muscle their way onto playlists are “You Make a Mess”, “Right from Wrong” and “Je Nah Say Kwah”.

All Frequencies hit the mark at the 2014 Maple Blues Awards when the band picked up five awards (of six nominations) including Entertainer of the Year, Electric Act of the Year, Recording of the Year, Songwriter(s) of the Year and Harmonica Player of the Year for Steve Marriner.

Humbled by the awards, Marriner says the band stopped worrying “whether what we were doing was ‘bluesy’ enough. We know that whenever — and wherever — the band’s playing the people dig it.

“We're growing and we're exploring. Every era of the blues has seen influential artists change the soundscape of the music and explore different musical possibilities.

“It’s our job to try to follow in their footsteps.”

Moon Turn Red

Moon Turn Red
SPCD 1382
Genre: Blues
Released: 25 September 2015

'Moon Turn Red' is MonkeyJunk's fourth release showcasing deep grooves and soulful original material.

The Ottawa based trio are Canada's most acclaimed blues/roots music band. They are Juno Award winners and have taken home top honours four times at the Maple Blues Awards. MonkeyJunk's touring schedule regularly includes dates in Europe and major festivals across North America.

Guests include David Wilcox in a remake of his hit "Hot Hot Papa" and Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar fame.

  1. Light It Up (3:39)
  2. You (3:49)
  3. Show Me Yours (4:10)
  4. Hot Hot Papa (feat. David Wilcox) (4:41)
  5. Love Attack (4:32)
  6. Live Another Day (5:02)
  7. Learn How To Love (5:08)
  8. Lucky One (3:01)
  9. Travelin' Light (4:26)
  10. Meet Me At Midnight (4:51)
Preorder item ($20 CDN).
Available in advance now, exclusively from Stony Plain Records.
Get it on iTunes

Tiger In Your Tank (2014 Reissue)

Tiger In Your Tank (2014 Reissue)
SPCD 1377
Genre: Blues
Released: 29 July 2014
A reissue, with bonus tracks, of MonkeyJunk's first album (2009) previously available on their own Beefy label. Tiger In Your Tank kick started the group's acclaimed international career winning a Blues Award in Memphis as 'Best Artist Debut' and the Canadian Indie Award for 'Blues Album Of The Year'. The album has been remastered and includes two tracks recorded especially for this reissue. The Ottawa based trio are Canada's most acclaimed blues/roots music band. MonkeyJunk's touring schedule regularly includes dates in Europe and major festivals across North America.
  1. I Wanna Put A Tiger In Your Tank (3:08)
  2. Small Time Evil (3:27)
  3. Give Me Time (4:10)
  4. If You Were Mine (3:45)
  5. When Push Comes To Shove (6:07)
  6. Beefy (5:05)
  7. Pay The Cost (4:26)
  8. Boogie Man (5:57)
  9. Leave The Rest To You (4:15)
  10. Blues For Anna (3:37)
  11. Gutsy (5:18)
  12. Lucky One (3:09) (Bonus Track)
  13. Pueblo (4:15) (Bonus Track)

All Frequencies

All Frequencies
SPCD 1366
Genre: Blues
Released: 24 September 2013

"The Sultans of Swamp" - William Shatner

For their second Stony Plain release enjoy catchier choruses, shorter instrumental breaks and a "heavier" sound.

  1. You Make A Mess (3:13)
  2. Right From Wrong (3:35)
  3. Why Are People Like That? (3:57)
  4. Je Nah Say Kwah (2:52)
  5. Sirens In The Night (3:53)
  6. Yearnin' For Yesterday (3:30)
  7. Once Had Wings (5:16)
  8. What I Got To Give (4:20)
  9. Say What? (4:01)
  10. Swank (7:13)


By Mark Uricheck

"Canadian garage/soul trio Monkeyjunk has a sound that falls somewhere indiscriminately between the slop-barrage of Thickfreakness-era Black Keys and the sinuous R&B of the Ohio Players’ Honey....Set apart from the current pack of Hill Country-inspired blues trios by its knack for freewheelin’ soul, Monkeyjunk is an exciting name in an often stagnant niche scene."

To Behold

To Behold
SPCD 1356
Genre: Blues
Released: 21 June 2011
  1. Mother's Crying (Listen to mp3 clip) (04:36)
    * free full length download *
  2. You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave) (03:35)
  3. Right Now (04:12)
  4. Let Her Down (04:57)
  5. With These Hands (03:48)
  6. You Don't Know (03:41)
  7. While You Are Mine (06:05)
  8. Running In The Rain (02:44)
  9. All About You (05:04)
  10. The Marrinator (05:11)


Maverick Magazine
By Eric Thom
Their infectious blues-based gumbo features some of the best harmoica, guitar and big-bottomed rhythm you've ever heard.