SAVANNAH music fans know Stewart Marshall as one of the most beloved veteran local musicians, with projects over the years such as the Stewart & Winfield duo, Junkyard Angel, and Uncle Fester, to name a few incarnations.
Another of Marshall’s musical labors of love is an ongoing tribute to one of his core influences, The Rolling Stones. The tribute band Monkey Man makes another of their occasional, but eagerly anticipated, appearances as they play Coach’s Corner in Thunderbolt this Friday.
The origin story of Monkey Man (see what I did there?) is a serendipitous one.
“My brother Joe, is our Mick Jagger. When I moved back to Savannah from Athens in 2003 he was killing it on the karaoke circuit,” Marshall laughs.
“We were like, man you are too good, we’ve got to come up with a band! So we sort of created Monkey Man out of that.”
Along with brother Joe, Stewart Marshall — who says he’s “the reincarnated Brian Jones” of the band — is joined by a supergroup of sorts:
Craig Johansen (Magic Rocks, Thomas Claxton & The Myth, Hot Pink Interior) is on guitar and vocals as Keith Richards; Scott Tanner (Junkyard Angel, Marshall Brothers) is on bass as Bill Wyman; Billy Groves is on drums as Charlie Watts; and Jason Anderson (Superhorse, Redneck Greece Deluxe, Judge & Jury) “is Ian Stewart on the keys,” Marshall says.
Monkey Man is far from just a greatest hits tribute, however.
“We are playing to Stones fans, deep cut fans. When we pull out something that not everybody’s gonna play, there’s always that person in the crowd who says, I can’t believe you did that,” Marshall laughs.
“The only downside is, if we mess up, it hurts! We know somebody out there will hear a mistake and groan about it,” he says.
“The Stones have such a deep catalogue. There is so much to draw from,” he says. “Of course we’re all huge Stones fans. When we get together we’ll find old videos, and be like, you gotta watch this version!”
Marshall says that ironically he finds himself practicing more intensely with Monkey Man than with original material.
“I don’t think I’ve ever practiced so much. When I was playing a lot, we played out so much and played so many gigs that we didn’t really need to practice. But we have to really study this stuff. It’s making us all better musicians,” Marshall says.
“I never thought it could be this much fun.”