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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Mary Stokes Collaborates with Sarah Michelle on New Release

Irish vocalist extraordinaire Mary Stokes continues progress in musical collaboration with the sensational Irish guitarist Sarah Michelle and partner Brian Palm. For several recording projects and in preparation for live shows, Mary has fine-tuned her authentic blues sound for which she is widely known, while at the same time reinterpreting original material.

With recent successes including a critically acclaimed show in Liverpool’s world renowned ‘Cavern Club’ - by invitation from Julia Baird, John Lennon’s sister and Director of the Cavern and the release of a new Album ‘Comin’ Home’, including a new interpretation of Bessie Smith’s ‘At The Christmas Ball’ the album garnering critical acclaim and airplay in the run up to Christmas!

In addition to Sarah Michelle on guitar, The Mary Stokes Band features sidemen Brian Palm on harmonica, Chris Byrne on bass, Robbie Barrett on drums, and Dermot Stokes on Piano. Recorded in Dublin, the album was expertly mixed by renowned rock legend Pete Holidai (the Radiators from Space, Trouble Pilgrims) and mastered by Joe Chester.

In a musical history spanning two decades The Mary Stokes Band has performed with BB King, Fats Domino, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Hubert Sumlin, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Lowell Fulson, Johnny Copeland, Jeff Healey, Rory Gallagher, Carey Bell, Lurrie Bell, Pinetop Perkins, Georgie Fame, Louisiana Red, Lefty Dizz, John Campbell, U.P. Wilson, Eddie Kirkland and many other blues greats. Mary Stokes and her band have toured throughout Ireland, Europe, and the U.S.A, performing at numerous festivals and in many of the most iconic blues clubs in the World.

In preparation for a Dublin gig, The Mary Stokes Band rehearsed in Displace Studios on the evening of April 11, 2019. They gathered together on the studio floor just as they would on stage, and ran through some of the songs from their set. It was a lively rehearsal, and it was all recorded upstairs in the control room by engineers Tom Lee and Darren Roe. The band really enjoyed themselves, and felt the recordings captured the energy and dynamics of a live gig."

Mary said "A few months earlier, we had done the same thing in Sonic Studios rehearsing two songs with our friend Shobsy O’Brien, lead singer in the Irish band State Lights. He was joining us the following night on Whelan’s main stage as our guest vocalist, duetting with me. We recorded the duets from that rehearsal and included them. Coincidentally, that was our first recording session with the remarkable Guitarist Sarah Michelle who had just joined the band. Since that night, we have developed a strong friendship and an exceptional working relationship with Sarah."

Mary added "Her creative musical virtuosity, commitment and genuine feel for the blues is featured throughout this album. In combination with our kicking rhythm section of bassist Chris Byrne and drummer Robbie Barrett, augmented by Dermot Stokes on Piano and Brian Palm on Harmonica, this record offers a snapshot of a formidable blues band in full flight. Last Christmas we released a single; a version of Bessie Smith’s ‘At the Christmas Ball’. As our bassist and drummer were stricken with a flu when we were recording, they didn’t make it on to that record. Recently we returned to the studio and recorded the song again with the full band, beautifully capturing a nostalgic, festive feel. It is a bright addition to this album."

Forefront in all of these recordings are Mary’s passionate and expressive vocals delivering her blues with the power and conviction for which she and her band are widely known. Renowned producer Pete Holidai expertly mixed the songs to maintain the authenticity and raw excitement of a blistering live show.


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