Featured Guest is a section of my website where I interview actors, musicians, artists and all kinds of various cool people I have crossed paths with over the years. Tonight we speak with the great blues musician and all around awesome lady, the super talented Mary Everhart. Mary and I talked about her music and history. She is a proud member of the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama-Deer Clan, was nominated and inducted in 2010 by Jimmy Lloyd Rea into the Blues Hall of Fame as Great Blues Artist from Tallahassee, Florida. Later she was inducted again into the Blues Hall of Fame as the Ambassador to Tallahassee, Florida. It’s a pleasure to speak with her today, a stand out in independent music and excellent singer and songwriter in today’s music world.

 

1.Hey Mary how are you and good to speak with you today. How have you been?

 

MARY: Hi Gideon, I’m doing well thanks. It is always a pleasure to hang out and speak with you. Thanks for coming by.

 

2.You were born and raised in Tallhassee Florida and have been performing for over thirty years now. What first inspired you to play guitar, sing and become a blues musician?

 

MARY: Yes. I was born and raised in Tallahassee, FL. Right in the middle of the Florida panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico.  I started singing first, and at a very young age. I was 2 years old. Without getting too personal here I will tell you that I was adopted as a baby. When I was two months away from my 3rd birthday my adoptive mother was killed in an awful car accident that the two of us were in. It affected my spirit and life deeply.  It was instinctual that I began singing. I would swing as high as I could on my swing set and sing as loud as I could in hopes that she could hear me.  It didn’t matter what song it was, it was more about that it came from my heart and spirit.

 

So, I guess you could say the blues have always been with me and the music helped to get it out. I had a pretty rough childhood after all that and by the age of 12 I got an acoustic folk guitar. I wanted one ever since a kid’s older brother came to my 4th grade class and played some Bob Dylan songs for us. I was so impressed as a kid and when I got my guitar, I would sit out in an area that had real tall grass out away from everyone. I could sit down and nobody could see me.  I had a Mel Bay book and began teaching myself some chords.

 

3.You’re left handed, was it awkward for you to begin playing guitar?

 

MARY:  Yes, I know crazy right? I’m left handed and play right handed guitar. When I was learning to play at 12, I had no idea there were left handed guitars so, I learned to play right handed. Thinking about it now, I’d have to say I’m glad I did. My dominant hand is my left so, it is best to have it on the neck of my guitar I think.

 

4.What were some of your favorite albums and concerts you enjoyed when you were learning to play?

 

MARY: I was a big collector of records back when I was a teenager. I had hundreds of them. But when I was learning to play I mostly listened to the radio. I really enjoyed listening to what they now call, classic R& B, Rock, Blues, and anything you can feel a spirit in or I felt meant something. My first concert was in 1978 and I went to Jacksonville, FL and saw Aerosmith and Mahogany Rush. Mahogany Rush really rocked the place big time! I also used to hang out for concerts on what they call, Union Green on campus of FSU, Man, they had the greatest southern rock bands back then playing. I saw so many bands who later become famous there like, Molly Hatchett and The Dixie Dregs, 38 Special among tons of others.

 

5.Any stand out memories of musicians or bands that you saw or inspired you?

 

MARY:  Yes there are some who have really stood out. There was an old man who used to play guitar down town when I was a kid. I never knew what his name was but, if I went into town with my Grandmother we would see him. This man had no legs and his guitar only had a few strings on it. He would be out there panhandling on a mechanic’s creeper playing his music.  I was so fascinated with him and the blues he played, he was really good. And it was such a good lesson in using what you have been gifted with no matter your limitations.

 

 

6.When you first started to sing did you have specific influences?

 

MARY: When I started honing my singing skills, I leaned towards women with powerful voices. I liked Jefferson Airplane because of Grace Slick’s control and power vocally. I also loved Koko Taylor because man, she could growl! Haha It wasn’t just women though who inspired me, many men also. Bobby Bland with that velvet voice and Paul Rodgers with his amazing vocal control showed me a lot about singing dynamically.

 

7.When did you play your first show, did you have other bands before you started your own group?

 

MARY:  My first real paying gig, oh man. I was 17 I think. It was a club in town and I was too young to be in there. I played in lots of bands throughout the years but, the one that stands out to me the most besides my own was one called ,Crossfire. I played in that band for 10 years.  We were a variety band and pretty much played in a tri state area. Those guys and their families were like my own family and I keep up with them all still. We lost a couple members over the years but, they are still in my heart and will always be.

8.Tell us about your albums?

MARY: I’d be happy to Gideon. I am mostly a blues and rock musician. My first CD I released back in 1998 was called, Rottweiler Blues. Back then I went by the name, Mary Thornton. My drummer at the time and dear friend Jason Tenzer, talked me into recoding some of my songs. I really had some fantastic musicians on that CD as well as the engineer, Perry Nelson.  The musicians were, Jason Tenzer, Drums, Me on vocals and guitar, Scott Campbell on lead and slide guitar, Jim Graham on Bass and, my dear friend Charles Atkins on keyboards and piano. I also had a wonderful violinist Mark Russell, play on my song,’ My Own Space’ That CD did way more than I could have imagined. It was on the radio all over the place and reviews coming in saying all positive things. Oprah Winfrey asked to use a couple of the songs for her tv network and did.  It was beyond cool to me because I had written all those songs and people liked them.

My 2nd CD was called, Distant Star and I released it in 2003. I wrote all those songs also. I had moved from FL to north Ga and living in Metro Atlanta. It was a big change for me and as usual, I wrote about the things that were going on in my life.  I was blessed once again with fantastic musicians who played on that one. I had, Marty Mason and Andrew Davis on drums, Dangerous Dave Messler on Bass, Charles Atkins on keyboard and piano and, Jon Bailey on lead and slide guitar as well as, G. Baldwin. I played Lead guitar as well as rhythm guitar and did the vocals.

My newest one called Light Shines Though released in 2015, I recorded after I moved back to Tallahassee. It is primarily a boogie blues cd but also delves into rock and southern rock. I have never limited my writing by genre, a song comes how it wants to and I learned a long time ago to not fight a song because, it will be written the way it wants to be.  Light Shines Through is a CD about how things have been in my life leading up to this point. Many of my songs reflect my Cherokee/ Creek heritage and those songs I call my spirit songs. Other songs are just rowdy southern rock songs with a blues backbone. I really wanted that CD to be raw and edgy and humorous as well. Life has been tough but, I’m still here so, I look for the positive and find humor in even the most serious situations.  That CD has some of the most gifted musicians I know here locally.  They are, Ken Gemmer, on Lead and Slide guitar, Mel Clemans, Bass, Mariano Rodriguez on Drums, Percussion, and, me on Guitar and Vocals. We had a wonderful engineer, Ed Vertuno, from Premier Sound and Lights who recorded us and, Marlon Kempmann, (Doctor Memory) from Canada mastered it. Marlon has since remastered my other two CDs because, he is awesome and I love his work.

I am currently working on  and writing new music I plan to record soon with more fantastic artists locally as well as a  great guitarist and songwriter Bill MacKechnie, in New York. I’ll keep you posted on that!

 

9.What inspired you to write song and what are some of your favorites that represent you as an artist from your music?

MARY: For me, writing songs is something I have done since I was a kid. I mostly write about things in my life and my journey through it. Each song is a part of me. I am someone who cares deeply about lyrics. I am a deep thinker or, maybe I just think too much haha. Well, as an artist I would say my songs like, I need you right now, Second Hand and Wake Bake and Boogie, do because, I like to boogie and have a good time and see others having fun too. On a deeper level, my songs, Say Goodbye, Light shines Through, In my heart and Stand Tall are looking glasses into my spirit and show a more tender and emotional side of me.

 

 

 

10.How do you feel about the music scene today compared to the early days when you started?

 

MARY:  Oh boy, that is a good question. There is a huge difference in the music scene since I began. As you can imagine I came from a time when women weren’t exactly common place on guitar. But back then. There were always gigs to play and we got paid well and had a great time. The local bands or the ones we found ourselves playing on the same rotation in the same clubs would help each other out. We’d trade out gigs or fill in for each other and it was a real nice scene. Now, things have changed quite a bit. Still lots of talented musicians both locally and everywhere but, gigs are harder to come by and don’t get me started on pay haha. I had to take time off from playing music for a while because I have a disabled son and when I was able to come back it was rather shocking. There were people backbiting instead of working with each other and very few places to play which make the true musician who needs to buy groceries with their gig money feel pretty nervous. I truly wish for things to even out soon for all of us. Everybody reading this, please support your local bands.

 

11.Do you like to read and are there any books that you’d recommend to your audience?

 

MARY: I do very much like to read but, I haven’t had much of a chance to lately. I like mysteries and mythology, also books on Native culture.

 

12.Your new cd is called “Light Shines Through”, what was it like recording the disc and how would you describe the music?

 

MARY: Yes, the new CD ‘Light Shines Though’ It was a lot of fun to record. We had Ed Vertuno  from Premier Sound and Lights here in Tallahassee, FL record us. Ed is also a singer and guitarist and an old friend. It sure made things go real smoothly and we had a great vibe going throughout the whole process. I would describe this CD as raw, boogie blues rock, heartfelt and personally spiritual.

 

 

13.When you’re not playing music, I know you like to take photographs of nature and animals. Do you pursue your photography for fun or is there somewhere people can check out your photos too?

 

MARY: Yes. I love being in nature and taking photos of wildlife and land and waterscapes. To me it recharges me inside to be out there with them. I think it is so cool that we share a planet with so many different beings. I love to watch them just being themselves and honored truly that they allow me to watch and take their photo.  You can usually find me in the woods no matter what time of year. I mostly take them for myself and my friends to see but I have had some encourage me to put them in a book. I may do that. I’ll have to give it some thought.

 

14.Mary you’re a great singer, songwriter, guitarist and so talented, always a pleasure to speak to you. Any news or last words tonight for your fans?

MARY: Thank you so much Gideon. It has truly been my pleasure to speak with you today. I’m so glad we had this opportunity to hang out a while.  Thanks to everyone who has been listening to my music and all the radio stations around the world for playing them. I hope I have written songs you all can relate to and enjoy.  Staying positive is key especially when times make you think it couldn’t get any darker. Stay on your path and be true to yourself and you will see light shine through.

 

Really awesome. Thats right. Always a gift to speak with you Mary, Thank you to you as well. Look forward to keeping up with your music. Stay in touch. - G

Small Stone Recordings

GS Tribute Album

Cemetery Crows

C.Crows Gideon's side project doom metal, sludge, gothic blues band. You can check out a few songs from the early demo on the reverbnation page. Doom On.

https://www.reverbnation.com/cemeterycrows