Now Playing: The Mark May Band’s ‘Deep Dark Demon’

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May
Image courtesy of Mark May



The Mark May Band has a new album out on Gulf Coast Records. It’s titled Deep Dark Demon. But first, for those not yet familiar with the act in question, a bit o’ background.

Mark May 

May

According to the official website and other sources, American singer-songwriter, and musician Mark May has been playing the guitar since the age of five. As a young adult, he honed his craft in biker bars.  

May’s rockin’ resume includes six other albums. His premiere platter, Call On the Blues, dropped in 1995. His recent release, Blues Heaven, reached number six on the Billboard Blues Album Chart and camped there for 5 weeks.

May opened for The Allman Brothers Band on their 1997-1998 tour. He also toured and recorded with Dickey Betts’ group Great Southern and spent time in the Texas Blues Scene. May has also been featured in such publications as Blues Review, Guitar Player, Guitar World, Vintage Guitar, and Tone Quest.

His music can be heard on Sirius/XM and Sonic Tap radio. The Mark May Band has performed live at several festivals including the Chenango Blues Festival, the Dallas International Guitar Show, King Biscuit, the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest, Telluride Blues and Brews, and the Tremblant International Blues Festival.

Signature sound

The Mark May Band’s signature sound is a musical mix of multiple music genres including contemporary and classic blues, R&B, southern rock, and soul. He includes Albert Collins and Jimi Hendrix among his major influences.

Deep Dark Demon

This disc has a running time of over 63 minutes. It is Mays’ seventh release and includes 11 tracks. On it, Mark May leads the way on guitar and vocals. He’s backed by Shawn Allen (B3), Darrell Lacy (bass and background vocals), Barry Seelen (piano and B3), Al Pagliuso (percussion), Billy Wells (guitar and background vocals), and Brandon Jackson and Geronimo Calderon (drums)

Track by Track

The album opener is “Harvey’s Dirty Side.” This is May’s tuneful tale of his experience as a survivor of infamous Hurricane Harvey which trashed Houston, Texas in 2017. It comes complete with blues-tinged lyrics and some deep bass.

The next number is the upbeat “BBQ and Blues.” This shuffling blues bit is built for summer festivals and an early fave of the critics to boot.  “Back” follows here. It includes a distinct Latin groove reminiscent of Carlos Santana which gives it an almost international feel. 

The title track, “Deep Dark Demon”, reveals a bit more of the darkness appropriately enough but it’s a slow-burning, familiar darkness, not a frightening one. Mike Zito guests on lead guitar.

“Sweet Music” is perhaps May’s call for help. It works. It’s message is universal.  “Rolling Me Down” is May’s musical praise for his lady. No doubt this is one of those songs that works even better live.

Much like the album opener, “My Last Ride” is perhaps a product of May’s southern rock roots and work with the Allman Brothers Band. Luckily for all of us, that’s a good thing.  

Not to be confused with the 1965 Yardbirds’ hit, this “For Your Love” is an original.  This one takes us in a slightly different direction. No doubt this one works well with the ladies. Eric Demmer guests on the saxophone.

“Walking Out That Door” is another song focused on a lady but this one has its own individual musical identity and drive. It’s hot.  The slow-tempo “Something Good” is one final example of what May can do as a solo songwriter. It’s a country-blues ballad slow dance song that simply works.  

The album endnote is “Invisible Man.” This is a retro-drenched ditty reminiscent of lesser-known Alan Parsons or Parliament material. Co-written with Lacy, it’s fun and funky with a great backbeat.

Overall . . .

Overall, this album provides an exceptional example of what May and company can do musically. It also offers insight into May’s versatility as a songwriter and composer and his assorted influences and personal favorites. So check out the Mark May Band’s Deep Dark Demon and discover “Something Good.”