Steve Marriner

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Steve Marriner is a Canadian multi-instrumentalist (baritone guitar, guitar, harmonica, piano, Hammond organ, upright and electric bass), singer, songwriter and record producer based in Ottawa, Ontario. He first garnered attention in the Ottawa blues scene in his early teens as a prodigy blues harp player. He is currently the frontman for the Canadian rock'n'roll group MonkeyJunk. The group won a Juno Award in 2012. Prior to forming MonkeyJunk, Marriner was a member of the Johnny Russell Band and the JW-Jones Blues Band.


Early years (1996-2003)[edit]

Marriner began playing the harmonica at eleven years of age. He first studied the harmonica with Ottawa-based bluesman Larry "The Bird" Mootham. After a year of tutelage, Marriner began joining The Bird and his band on stage in Ottawa-area clubs. Before taking the stage for the first time, Marriner was bestowed with the moniker "Southside Steve," a reference to his home on the South end of Ottawa. This stage name that was used for the next several years.

In the summer of 1998, "Southside Steve" met guitarist Tony D, and would perform regularly with him at The Rainbow Bistro. (The two would later form MonkeyJunk with drummer Matt Sobb in 2008). Later that year, Marriner joined The Johnny Russell Band. The band played Chicago Blues and New Orleans music and performed around the provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

In June, 1999 at age 14, he won the Ottawa Blues Harp Blow-Off, an annual battle of harmonica players held at The Rainbow Bistro. With the win came an appearance on stage at the Royal Bank Ottawa Blues Festival and a recording sessions at Distortion Studios in Ottawa. The Johnny Russell Band used the studio time to record their album "Whippersnapper." The album was released in December 1999, and is the earliest public recording of Steve Marriner.

In 2000, Marriner began recording and touring with the JW-Jones Blues Band, contributing both vocals and harp. For the next three years, he performed with the band at clubs, bars, and blues festivals. During that time, Marriner played several shows with Fabulous Thunderbirds frontman, singer and harp player Kim Wilson when the band was backing up Wilson during his performances in Canada. Marriner left in 2003 to attend the University of Ottawa.

In 2004, Marriner joined Canadian folk icon Harry Manx at The Chicago Blues Festival. Following a positive response from the Chicago audience, Manx invited Marriner to accompany him on tour regularly. The two would tour the world together from 2004 until 2007, performing in Australia, France, England, the United States, and Canada.

His debut album is Going Up was released in 2007 on Dog My Cat Records.[1] The record was reviewed favourably despite low sales and no nominations.[2] The BlogCritics review of the album states that "with only a couple of exceptions the majority of the music on the album follow[s] the standard rock/blues boy wanting girl theme". The review positively notes "Remember Me", with its "plea for the homeless" and the fourth song, which has "a nice rockabilly feel." The reviewer states that there are "glimmers of real talent on this album", such as Marriner's rare ability to play the "complexities of a Flamenco beat".[3]

The review from notes the album's "nods to harp legends Little Walter, Junior Wells and Kim Wilson, and states that Marriner's "tight band fan the flames of tradition with a scorching sound for the 21st century." [4] The review states that "Marriner proves himself an adept singer/songwriter who writes highly melodic tunes that are energetic and full of catchy hooks, reminiscent of Delbert McClinton". The review states that "his lyrics stay true to the braggadocio tradition forged by past blues legends." [5] Overall, the review states that the "highlight [is his] blistering harmonica playing", which has a "natural sense of blues phrasing with a down-home, gritty tone." states that with its "solid performances and slick production, Going Up is a strong premiere by a driven young blues maverick with crossover potential and all the makings of a star."[6]

MonkeyJunk (2008 - Present)[edit]

Marriner is the frontman of MonkeyJunk, a Canadian rock'n'roll/swamp/blues band signed to Stony Plain Records. They are based in Ottawa. MonkeyJunk are frequent winners at the Maple Blues Awards having won a combined 20 prizes in their six year existence.,[7] and in 2012 their album To Behold won the Juno Award for Blues Album of the Year.[8]

As a record producer[edit]

In 2014, Marriner produced Drew Nelson's The Other Side, on which Marriner also co-wrote a number of the songs. It was through Marriner's encouragement and support that Nelson released his first album in eight years.[9]


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  7. ^ The Canadian Press (January 16, 2012). "MonkeyJunk nabs 3 prizes at Maple Blues Awards", CBC News. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  8. ^ "Local artists among winners in Junos pre-show gala". CTV News. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  9. ^ Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa musician Drew Nelson releases first new album in eight years. Ottawa Citizen, July 25, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-04.

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