Swamp roots rock band MonkeyJunk feel fortunate

Some screwy things are happening in the world, but nobody needs any more complaining, said MonkeyJunk frontman Steve Marriner. The Ottawa-based musician, therefore, recorded some upbeat songs on his band’s latest album, Moon Turn Red.

Some screwy things are happening in the world, but nobody needs any more complaining, said MonkeyJunk frontman Steve Marriner.

The Ottawa-based musician, therefore, recorded some upbeat songs on his band’s latest album, Moon Turn Red.

The reggae-flavoured Love Attack, for instance, says “it’s OK. Let’s be happy,” said Marriner, who performs with MonkeyJunk on Sunday, Jan. 3 at Fratters Speakeasy in Red Deer.

The 31-year-old singer — along with lead guitarist Tony D and drummer Matt Sobb — are in a celebratory mood at the start of a new year. “The three of us don’t have much to complain about,” said Marriner. “We’ve worked hard and feel fortunate…”

While many musicians are having difficulties, with the music industry in flux, MonkeyJunk, signed to Edmonton’s Stony Plain Records, is selling more CDs than ever and “playing in bigger rooms than we ever have,” said Marriner.

The trio looks forward to another European tour in the spring — this time through Germany, Poland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia — followed by more extensive runs through Canada and the U.S.

“We’ll be playing in places where we’ve never played before, like Flagstaff, Arizona… we’re also doing a major festival in Las Vegas called the Big Blues Bender.”

Marriner attributes MonkeyJunk’s success — including getting radio play for the new single Light It Up — to a solid work ethic. But then, working hard is all anyone can do to strive for success, he said — so much else is out of our control.

“If the worst part of your day is that only a few people come to your show, you should be happy. You still get to make music.”

MonkeyJunk was formed in 2008 after the three musicians realized they had built up a fan following playing casual Sunday jams at Ottawa’s Irene’s Pub.

The band has since racked up a Juno Award, 20 Maple Blues Awards, two Canadian Independent Music Awards, and a U.S. Blues Music Award.

On Moon Turn Red, which features contributions from David Wilcox and Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson, the group’s sound transitions a little further away from blues and closer towards hard, driving rock.

Marriner said it’s a gradual evolution — maybe not as evident when comparing the new album to the previous one, but definitely apparent when contrasting new songs with ones from MonkeyJunk’s first release. It goes with a more positive viewpoint.

“We realized at some point that, not just our music, but all blues-related music, is based on complaint,” said Marriner. And it seemed like a good time for an attitude adjustment.

There’s a $20 cover for the 8 p.m. show.


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