Band takes crowd on exceptional ride
The Melody Inn, Indianapolis, December 3, 1999
Analogies come easily when describing artists as expressive and emotive as the Mary Janes. Although the Bloomington band played late Friday night for a less-than-reverent Melody Inn crowd, attentive audience members were treated to a rewarding travelogue of American music.
It started on a gravel road, where drummer Mark Minnick kicked up dust during Wish I Could Fly -- a steady-rocking track from the Mary Janes' 1999 album Record No. 1. Minnick's full and sturdy tone represents the group's mode of travel, be it a weathered pickup truck during rural-centric material or a sleek sports car for sophisticated pop.
The playing of violinist Heather Craig serves as this vehicle's sun roof, a window to heavenly daydreams manifested in poignant countermelodies and bursts of metallic feedback.
A traveler's mind can't wander too far, though, before locking onto the voice of guitarist-songwriter Janas Hoyt.
She sings your no-nonsense conscience, delivering hard truths that come as one drives toward a sunset. Or maybe the ones that come as a dark and restless night yields to sunrise.
"You never know what you're going to find, but you never know what you're leaving here," Hoyt sings on Better Way, slated for inclusion on the band's upcoming Flame album. The band also previewed If It Was True, a sweeping ballad judiciously distributing the spotlight across Hoyt's voice, Minnick's percussion and Craig's strings.
Harmonica player Kurt Squire was a guest during a four-song segment that proved to be the evening's most melodic. She Flies Away and Sigh to Signal stand as pop-culture landmarks on the Mary Janes' map, two tracks that may foreshadow a commercial breakthrough.
During the final miles of Hoyt's journey, she opened the throttle for red-line velocity. Set-closing duo Say it Two Times and Tried and True rocked mightily at the intersection where either you surrender to the road or the road surrenders to you.
Hoyt, shifting from skittering Lou Reed licks to strutting Keith Richards chords, won that battle before punctuating her trip with a brave and lovely a cappella hymn.
September / October 1999
Hideout, Chicago, IL, July 23, 1999
The evening began with Chicagoans witnessing one of the city's most beautiful sunsets in memory; everywhere in the club, people were talking about it. The clouds were brilliant with purple, orange and pink, and shifting edges of gleaming sunlight. The spectacle followed a rainbow that ended a drenching, wind-blown, 20-minute squall. The Mary Janes had followed the storm from Bloomington to Chicago in their van, which was fragrant with stargazer lilies from the funeral of Philip Andrew Hoyt.
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October 7, 1998
Nick Marino, MTV College Stringer
The Mary Janes warm up fallfestWhen The Mary Janes took the stage late in the blustery day at WIUS' annual Fallfest, they were following two consecutive sets by blistering punk bands. The shivering festival crowd was ready for a new sound, a sound that would make them feel warm inside. Indiana's own Mary Janes were happy to oblige.
...The band transcends rock and roll gimmickry and plays timeless music that speaks to anyone with a soul that needs a little warming...
...The Mary Janes sound a bit like the Cowboy Junkies, with female vocals laid smoothly over a folksy rhythm...
...During the bridge of several songs, the rhythm section held back while the dueling violins took over. These musical moments showed the band at its best. Sometimes playing in harmony and sometimes intertwining in improvisation, the twin fiddles' jamming drew people literally from the streets to find the source of this incredible music...
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Indiana Daily Student, Bloomington, Indiana
September 7, 1998
Mary Janes captivates Second Story crowd
The Mary Janes delivered a powerful performance Friday night to the audience at Second Story. The mellow crowd was quickly captivated by the warm stage presence of lead singer Janas Hoyt. Her soulful vocals were accompanied by a flowing violin that made the overall sound epic rather than folk.
...The overall sound borrowed the big, wide-open feel of early U2 albums. Hoyt's lyrics told well-thought stories and veered from the anger and snide attitudes often associated with female bands...
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March 18, 1997
SXSW remorse: What did we miss?
What was the best act you saw at SXSW '97?Bill Wyman, San Francisco Weekly arts editor:
The Mary Janes at the Driskill Ballroom (Saturday). "This offshoot of the Vulgar Boatmen was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, period. There were only about 11 people in the audience, but the music, sort of country chamber music, filled in the rest of the space.
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