Back about eight years ago as Steve Marriner of MonkeyJunk eked a living playing small-scale clubs including Blues on Whyte, he’d see posters of the Arden Theatre and dream.
“I kept thinking, I’d love to play there one day and now we are,” said Marriner in a telephone interview from Calgary.
After giving a sold-out, standing room only performance at the Arden Theatre in April 2015, the Juno Award winners return Friday, Sept. 30.
The high-octane blues-rock trio is about to embark on an Alberta tour in support of the Nov. 4 release of its hotly anticipated fifth studio album. Time to Roll explores MonkeyJunk’s musical journey and its ultimate identity.
“This album is kind of a culmination of all the things we’ve done as a band. Whatever decisions we’ve consciously made, we’ve always made sure to include the blues in our material,” said Marriner.
CD hard copies will be available at the concert with diverse tunes such as Albert King’s traditional blues song The Hunter and the instrumental funk track Fuzzy Poodle.
“Any time we record an album we try to do something new as well as pay respects to our influences,” Marriner said.
Instead Pray For Rain, an original projecting a Led Zeppelin feel, is strongly influenced by the Fort McMurray fire.
“We were in Europe touring when it happened. We knew about it through #prayforrain. We felt those three words, Pray for Rain, had a lot to say. We came up with a groove and a melodic line.”
Marriner describes the trio’s method of creating music as “very reactionary. We come up with an idea and come together organically to write the music. In our process, we write the lyrics after we have the music.”
Hailing from Ottawa, MonkeyJunk is one of Canada’s most sought after bands combining a hybrid of driving rock and roll, swamp blues, and psychedelic funk with a touch of soul, country and jazz.
The trio consisting of Marriner on vocals, harmonica, keyboards; Tony Diteodoro known as Tony D on lead guitar and background vocals; and Matt Sobb on drums, percussion and background vocals, have pretty much electrified audiences across North America.
As the most celebrated Canadian band keeping blues alive, it’s tough to put a finger on the exact reason for such phenomenal success.
Monkey Junkies (fans of the band) are likely to list off catchy lyrics highlighted by Marriner’s free and raw vocals and sweet sounding harmonica, Tony D’s hot fretwork and grungy grooves along with Sobb’s slick one-man rhythm section.
One thing is evident: if they’re not singing a slow, heart-wrenching ballad, their pumping sound captures an unfettered rolling-down-the-highway groove.
“Our goal has always been to incite movement. We love it when people dance. We feed off their energy and they feed off ours.”
The trio has successfully created a signature sound that stays consistent with their original concept even as it introduces fresh ideas and grooves – something local Monkey Junkies can’t get enough of.
“We’ve had some of our best audiences in the Edmonton area. We’re not really sure what’s different. Alberta audiences are very keen on live music. There’s a long list of great performers from Calgary and Edmonton. And the fact that Alberta has CKUA that exposes audiences to music is a bonus. It is a wonderful tool to get music to the masses and it is a treasure to artists.”
Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
5 St. Anne Street
Tickets: $38 plus service fees. Call 780-459-1542 or at ticketmaster.ca