MonkeyJunk frontman Steve Marriner brings his solo show to the Salmon Arm Legion on June 5. (File photo)

Steve Marriner to serve early taste of Roots and Blues

Salmon Arm Folk Music Society presents award-winning artist in concert on June 5

If you can’t wait for the Roots and Blues Festival in August, you’re in luck.

The Salmon Arm Folk Music Society is presenting award-winning artist Steve Marriner in early June.

“If he isn’t the busiest musician on the Canadian roots music scene, the multi-instrumentalist and singer best known for his recorded work and powerhouse performances with MonkeyJunk, he certainly ranks near the top of the list,” says Roots & Blues artistic director Peter North.

Marriner began the year by winning Harmonica Player of the Year at the 2019 Maple Blues Awards in Toronto – for the sixth time.

A few weeks later he headed west as his membership in the recent Colin James Band lineup put him on a national tour that started in Victoria.

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“Marriner’s ferocious harp sound has been a perfect fit for James’s current hard-core blues attack and fans from coast to coast have shown their appreciation for his red-hot solos, as James gives the Toronto-resident ample room to roar,” raves North.

In the midst of the James tour, Stony Plain/True North Records released the Manx Marriner Mainline album Hellbound for Heaven that puts Marriner in the company of his longtime friend and mentor Harry Manx.

The artist who considers Roots & Blues to be one of his favourite festivals, first appeared here in 2005 when he played with Manx.

“He invited me to go on tour with him so I dropped out of university,” he laughs. “It’s where I turned pro for real and I am always happy to return.”

Marriner says his passion for the blues is hard to explain given the music comes from the Deep South of the late 1800s and early 1900s and was mostly played by Afro Americans.

“There’s so much honesty and humanity and it’s unfiltered emotional music,” he says, pointing out that as a white person born in Ottawa in 1984, he can never know the social circumstances that produced the music but has always been drawn to it nonetheless. “The sounds of the voices, harmonica and guitar ignite something in my soul. That’s what I mean about the humanity in it; everyone understands the blues, it’s heart music not head music.”

Marriner compares the blues to a language he understands and says upon hearing the music for the first time was drawn in and became obsessed and enthralled with the genre.

The old adage that variety is the spice of life certainly holds true for Marriner, who followed up the six-week tour with Colin James by playing several dates with Harry Manx the following weekend and has a MonkeyJunk tour coming up before his solo tour begins in Alberta on May 30 and heads westward with four concerts in B.C.

“It’s no secret that I enjoy being involved in different projects,” he says, noting he learns something from everyone he plays with.

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While he appreciates the awards he has garnered for several different projects, Marriner says with or without them, he would continue to work as hard as he can to make the most meaningful music and get the best sound when he records it.

“Obviously we want to make a living, but I wouldn’t want to make music my living,” he says. “I love listening to music and like to try to create something and have it move people – that’s the main goal.”

In his June 5 concert at the Salmon Arm Legion, Marriner will perform some traditional blues and cool covers on this tour. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show is at 8.

For ticket info, call the Roots & Blues office at 250-833-4096 or go online to rootsandblues.ca.


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