Heading Up

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

Los Angeles-based rock band Shut Up Marie is causing quite a stir in Southern California. Since its first appearance in Los Angeles in 1999 (under orignal name Breather), it has headlined the city's most prestigious clubs, including Whisky A-Go-Go and the Troubadour.

Rock City News in Hollywood has described it as "loaded with talent" and "a harbinger of big things to come." This Friday we get a chance to share in the excitement, as the band is heading north for an appearance at Blue Fin Billiards in Monterey.

The driving force behind Shut Up Marie is vocalist and songwriter Annette. Schooled in jazz and opera, her voice is a powerful instrument with impressive range and dynamics. Annette began her singing career while studying at the Wisconsin School of Music. Her vocal coach at the time forced all of her students to sing at a local jazz open-mic. The response that Annette received for her rendition of "Georgia On My Mind" convinced her she was on to something good.

At graduate school in Reno, she learned to play guitar and began writing songs. By the mid-1990s, with almost 200 songs written, she formed her first rock band, Jaded.

Jaded played around Reno before moving to Seattle, where it stayed for almost a year before breaking up. Annette then moved to Los Angeles and formed a new band, Breather, which in early 2001 became Shut Up Marie.

The other members of Shut Up Marie are JW Monkfish on bass, Robbie Von B and Zeke "Roadstar" Johnson on guitars and Mark "Shark" Evangelista on drums. All are trained jazz musicians, who, along with Annette's vocals, give the band its distinctive sound.

The band's four-track CD "Demo" has received enthusiastic reviews and would be a natural fit in the playlists of rock stations like San Jose's KSJO. "Demo" shows the band playing both funky hard rock and slower, more reflective material, and grows on you with every listen.

The subject matter of the songs is varied. Songwriter Annette says: "My lyrics are about self-discovery, relationships, everyday struggles, and some are just great little stories. My voice is my tool to get my message across, and sometimes there really is no message."

One message, however, is clear. Shut Up Marie is a band with the drive and the talent to go places. Currently it is in the studio, and a new CD release is imminent. See the show on Friday and prepare to rock!

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, August 29, 2002

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