Photos courtesy of Dan Ball
There’s a certain amount of blood, sweat and tears that goes into putting music together for presentation. Some people have the ability intrinsically to do exactly what they want to do; they can see the music and feel it with their hands, describe it in an unformatted manner. Conserving motion as energy to place the effort needed in order to get the music out there is something that comes from years on the road. In some cases, too many years. There’s a desire among gifted musicians to wrestle publicly with the tiger, trying desperately to punch and claw their way into, or out of, the jaws of death using whatever sonic weaponry happens to be in their arsenals.
The New Mary Jane is a culmination of these efforts stemming from two of independent music’s truest road warriors, Dave Shouse and Scott Taylor. Both Shouse and Scott have put innumerable road and stage hours behind them as members of The Grifters, a seminal garage rock band from Memphis, TN that effortlessly combined three-chord blues with crunching, driving noise rock. Dave has gone on to perform with many other incarnations — Bloodthirsty Lovers being, perhaps, the most notable. With the additions of the exceptional John Argroves on drums and James Godwin on keyboards, bass and vocals, The New Mary Jane is as sonically rancorous as any comparable act and, in some ways, even more steeped in the inherent blues traditions that southern music, particularly southern independently-made music, is known for.
What has taken Dave and Scott these many years to cross is some sort of cosmic divide between the people we are when we’re younger and the roots that tie us to each other more closely as the years gain momentum. There’s a loyalty and comraderie, a friendship and a countenance behind it that informs the music as much as the people themselves.
To think back 14 years to the last time I saw The Grifters perform, the progression and the arc of the progress itself is drawn in eerie, jangled keyboards piped through vast circuitry of effects pedals and theremin. The expressiveness of this incarnation, raising the mythical ghosts from the Mississippi delta, is a touchstone of The New Mary Jane’s sound. It tells the story of the gathering, the breakup, the resurrection and resolution of two of Memphis music’s finest sons, seething past the simple into new territories far beyond the imagination.
But make no mistake: The New Mary Jane are not the new Grifters. They’re the evolution of a sound that continues to change and grow.
Ed Wood Soundcheck by The New Mary Jane
Hail The Young Girls Who Pulverize Clouds by The New Mary Jane
Microgore by The New Mary Jane