MonkeyJunk returning to play Wide Skies Reimagined


Multi-instrumentalist Steve Marriner is excited to bring his blues rock trio MonkyJunk back to Lethbridge, July 28 for a special roof top show for the Geomatic Attic.

“I just found out it was a roof top show a  few days ago. It’s a weird venue. It’s unusual but we’ll play anywhere,” said Marriner, noting the strangest venues MonkeyJunk was played was a bank in France.


Steve Marriner playing with MonkeyJunk. Photo by Richard Amery

“It was back in 2009 when MonkeyJunk was jus starting. It was a strange festival without a centralized stage in a field. They had everyone playing in non-traditional spaces. On that festival, we played community centres and the bank,” he said, adding he is excited to return to Lethbridge. They are already playing the Calgary blues Festival and were happy to travel on down the road to play for the Geomatic Attic.


“We were supposed to play Wide Skies Music Festival for the Geomatic Attic before the pandemic, so when we got the Calgary Blues Festival gig, we checked in with Mike Spencer and he asked us to play this show with Leeroy Stagger. Of course we said yes because Leeroy is a dear, dear friend of mine,” Marriner said.


“We’ve always had a close relationship with Lethbridge,” he continued, adding MonkeyJunk will play their favourite songs.


“This will be the first show we’ve played in front of actual people in a long time, so hopefully we won’t make too many mistakes,” he laughed.


“So we’ll be playing our favourite songs and hopefully the crowd’s favourites,” he continued, taking a break from recording.


Marriner spent the pandemic learning how to produce and engineer music in the studio.

In addition to releasing his second solo CD “ Hope Dies Last,” in addition to Ontario artists like Miss Emily (Emily Fennell) as well as David Gogo‘s new album, “Silver Cup” which is to be released in October or November.


“I went out to B.C to record it in his house. He plays guitar and sings and I play pretty much everything else. I play drums on most of it and bass on most of it and some piano,” he said.

“ I’m really excited about it.”


He is also really excited about the solo album.

“With MonkeyJunk, the three of us create all the sounds. We’ll bring in backup singers sometimes, but me, Tony Diteodoro and Matt Sobb make all the sounds,” he said, adding in between Covid peaks and shutdowns, they went into the studio to write new material.

“But we haven’t recorded any of it. it was nice just to get together and jam. there’s no real rush to put out a new album. And I just released the solo album so I should try to support it,” he said.


“We‘ve (MonkeyJunk) been playing together for 15 years, so I don’t like to tell them what to play. But the good thing about making a solo album is that I get to call all the shots,” he adding he was able to branch out on the solo album and work with a lot of other musicians.


Colin James’ keyboardist Jesse O’ Brien plays keyboards on most of the album.

“He’s a crazy gifted musician. I just love to hear him play,” he said.

One of the highlights of the CD, “Coal Mine” is a cowrite with O’ Brien and Junkhouse/ Blackie and the Rodeo Kings’ Tom Wilson.

“He’s been a hero of mine for years. We’ve been threatening to write a song together for years and finally did. Our paths crossed  at a  studio in December 2019. I was leaving and he was arriving. And he said ‘ so when are we going to write that song,’ so we pulled out our phones and checked our calendars and set a date, He’s got a new  project wth indigenous singer Iskwé, and they’re performing it now. I’ve only heard it once. I think his version is  more mysterious and seductive, while mine is more in your face with the drums right out front. Plus he’s got the female vocals on it which are powerful,”he enthused.


Marriner also sings a beautiful duet with Samantha Martin from Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar on “Enough.”


“I wrote that with song with my girlfriend Jackie. She’s a great singer, but doesn’t like to sing in front of people, so I asked her who she wanted to sing on it, and she said Sam, and I said of course. She rules,” he enthused adding he picked up a last minute gig in Guelph with Samantha Martin as her guitarist.

“Most of her band mates live outside of Toronto, and her guitarist couldn’t make it, so she asked me to fill in.”


He doesn’t think any of the solo songs will be part of MonkeyJunk shows.

“I like to keep those projects separate,” he said, noting MonkeyJunk shows are going to be pretty rare this year as he will spend most of the next six months on the road with Colin James’s band as a utility musician.


“I mostly play harmonica with Colin, though I’ll play bass and a little keyboards for the smaller shows. Those are exciting when I get to do more stuff,” he said.

“It’s been a long time without anything. It’s been boring. But now my calendar is starting to fill up again. Let’s hope it stays that way,” he said.


In the meantime he is looking forward to playing Lethbridge and may even play a song with Leeroy Stagger.


“Anything can happen. We’ve definitely had a discussion about it,” he said.

MonkeyJunk and Leeroy Stagger, play Wide Skies Reimagined, July 28 on the rooftop of the Park N Ride building at 8 p.m. Skinny Dyck and Evan Euschenko will be playing in the beer gardens at the Bowman Arts Centre parking lot beginning at 6 p.m. Admission is free but space is limited so you need to get a ticket in advance through the Geomatic Attic website.

 — by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Friday, 23 July 2021 16:04 )