Mark May Band
Deep Dark Demon
Gulf Coast Records
Guitarist Mark May was born in Columbus, Ohio. As a young man he was already playing nightclubs before he turned fifteen. He relocated to Houston, Texas where he spent twenty years playing country music and rock in biker bars. Influenced by Albert Collins May turned to his first love, and formed the blues-rock band Mark May & The Agitators, releasing his debut recording “Call on the Blues” in 1995. Two years later he followed up with his sophomore effort “Telephone Road”. In 1997 and 1998 May was an opening act for the Allman Brothers.
In 2001 May recorded with the Dickey Betts Band. He appears on their album “Let’s Get Together” where he plays guitar alongside Betts and wrote two of the albums songs. May recorded his third album “Doll Maker” in 2002 with special guest Betts who appears on three tracks. He followed up with “In Texas Live”, before recording “Release My Soul” in 2011. May’s last album was 2016’s “Blues Heaven” on the Connor Ray Music label. The Mark May Band has performed at many Blues Festivals including the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival; the King Biscuit Festival, and the Tremblant International Blues Festival.
Just released on Mike Zito and Guy Hale’s Gulf Coast Records, “Deep Dark Demon” is May’s seventh recording overall. Co-produced by May and Geronimo Calderon the band includes May, lead and rhythm guitars, and lead vocals; Billy Wells, lead and rhythm guitars, and backing vocals; Darrell Lacy, bass and backing vocals; and either Brandon Jackson or Calderon, drums. The keyboards are played by Barry Seelan or Shawn Allen. Special guests include percussionist Al Pagliuso; saxophonist Eric Demmer, and guitarist Zito.
May is a great guitarist and vocalist and further excels as a songwriter. All of the songs were written by him except for one co-write. May writes about his personal demons and experiences. The band features twin lead guitars and harmony vocals. Opening with “Harvey’s Dirty Side” May tells us the story of Hurricane Harvey and how it devastated Houston in 2017. May takes an extended solo as Seelen decorates the production with his B-3.
The shuffle “BBQ and Blues” is a great summer song with some vocal harmony. My favorite “Back” has a Santana vibe, more harmony and the lyric “when I had it goin’ on”, before May takes a Latin styled solo. The title track includes the line “I got a demon down in my soul” while Zito plays lead. The soulful “For Your Love” features saxophonist Demmer, who was once in the band with May, until he left to spend twelve years with Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.
If many of the songs sound a bit like Southern-Rock it’s because The Allman Brothers and Betts remain an influence on May’s music. This is especially true on the Allman-esque “My Last Ride”. The album closes with the funky “Invisible Man” co-written with bassist Lacy.
This is the best yet from May who just seems to get better with each recording.