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MonkeyJunk - Tiger in Your Tank

Beefy Productions

11 songs; 49:12 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Traditional and Contemporary Blues

Remember a Canadian band I reviewed, The Twisters? This week it’s back to Canada to catch up with another band deserving more attention, MonkeyJunk.

 Shuffle Shoes and I have been playing their debut CD on our WKCC Friends of the Blues Radio Show, and the second track, “Small Time Evil” was #35 on “Skyy Dobro’s Top 50 Songs For 2009.”

The trio has gotten lots of media and fan attention based on that CD, “Tiger in Your tank.” Check this list:

* They are nominated for a 2010 Blues Music Award in the category of Best New Artist Debut.
* The Ottawa-based group swept the 13th annual Canadian Blues awards, scoring wins in five of the six “Maple Blues” categories for which they were nominated. As a group, the trio landed the awards for Entertainer of the Year and Electric Act of the Year. A pair of awards also went to singer and multi-instrumentalist (harp, baritone guitar, keys) Steve Marriner (for Male Vocalist of the year and Harmonica Player of the Year), while axeman Tony Diteodoro picked up the award for Guitarist of the Year.
* They just won the Best Blues Artist award at the Canadian Independent Music Awards at Canadian Music Week in Toronto.
* They were 3rd Place finalists in 2009’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

That is a very impressive list of accomplishments, especially considering it was less than two years ago that MonkeyJunk formed when two old friends, the award winning and critically acclaimed Marriner and Diteodoro, enlisted drummer Matt Sobb. The trio developed their distinctive no-bass, boogie-blues during a few months of regular gigging.

Their name is taken from an utterance of legendary Delta Bluesman Son House, who emphatically and passionately growled, “I'm talkin’ 'bout the Blues. . . I ain't talkin' 'bout monkey junk!” That quote can be heard at the beginning of the opening track, their grooving cover of Muddy Waters’ “I Want to Put a Tiger in Your Tank,” written by Willie Dixon.

My favorite song “Small Time Evil” has a hypnotic “voodoo” guitar hook that propels this Blues based number until Marriner’s sax-sounding harp perfectly sets up Tony D’s slippery slide guitar solo. Marriner’s edgy vocals seal the deal!

Besides “...Tiger...” and “...Evil...,” other songs getting radio play are “Beefy” – a killer instrumental with plenty of electric and slide guitar, baritone guitar replacing bass guitar, and a mid-song funky rhythm tandem of drums and harp. “Blues for Anna” is a ballsy 12 bar Blues original reminiscent of “She’s 19 Years Old.” Another instrumental closes the set, “Gutsy,” showcasing Marriner on Hammond organ this time.

While their CD was released in Spring 2009 on the Beefy Productions label, it is being re-released on April 20, 2010, on Australia’s “+1 Records.” There are seven original songs and four covers.

“Gutsy” is an apropos title for all the music of this band, which draws heavily on the legends of the Blues and translates that influence into an interesting and entertaining contemporary blend. It is not all straight Blues, but that lets purists and everyone else enjoy the varied offerings.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL

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