Local Artist: Mary & Monique


I love my job. I don’t get paid squat, but I love it anyway. One of the reasons being: I get to talk to some very neat people. This is one of those occasions. First, let me say that I hate labels like ‘Acoustic Duo’ and ‘Female Band’. That said, I can tell you about Mary & Monique. They are a Female Acoustic Duo-Band. Having seen and heard them, you now understand my hesitancy to label them in any way. They met years ago and planted the seed of mutual envy and respect for each other’s talent. When a mutual friend talked both of them into playing in a band, neither knew it was the person they had already admired in the past. Thus was born “Chevy Fins in the Garden”….Mary, Monique and Trace Wiren from My Sister Jane. After the fall of this local favorite, both Mary & Monique departed our lovely state for greener pastures … only to return years later to find one another again in need of an outlet for their unique talents.

Thus is born Mary & Monique. Both from different musical backgrounds, it only makes sense that they go together the way they do. Monique played the piano in church and wrote songs from the ripe old age of 10, but it wasn’t until she heard “Rainbow Sleeves” by Rickie Lee Jones, on the radio, that she knew she wanted to play. Mary, on the other hand took her acoustic guitar to school and played it in the bathroom, listening to Nancy Sinatra, Hank Williams and Stevie Wonder. Being a little intimidated at the age of eight or nine, she put the guitar away for several years before picking it up again. She does, however, remember the first song she ever wrote, something about being an undercover spy for the FBI. “I just knew that it had to rhyme” she says as she sings a few bars. I encouraged her to do it again onstage … we’ll see. 

Saturday nights at D.B. Coopers Club, Sundays at the Ashbury Pub or even better yet Friday nights at Burt’s Tiki Lounge, you can find yourself up to your neck in Doc Martens, pierced nipples and cool vibe as Mary & Monique weave what they can only describe as magic. While Mary feels that “Monique has the best ear for harmonies … she always makes it better than my original vision of the song” Monique says that it is only connecting with Mary that balances it all out and makes it dynamic. They both have an obvious passion for what they’re doing, for Monique it is “hitting that note and feeling everything else just peel away.” While Mary’s sweet spot comes from “giving something that I” responsible for two people and them accepting it and having fun with it.” 

As an observer, you may not care why any of this is happening. You might not know why Mary is eyeing her guitar like a sexual encounter or why Monique is pulling invisible things from the sky. And it won’t matter, once you’ve sat down and listened to (and watched) Mary & Monique do what they do. They confirm the confidence that myself and other have in the local music melting pot we call Zion. They’re part of what makes this place different … and yes; cool. It’s a groove thing. Like the smell of a windy October night … or is it licorice? Go see it for yourself.

Read more from our September 1994 issue here.