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Biography

The Mary Shaver Band plays sweet soul, blues and rock n roll around Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, Baltimore and Pennsylvania. The band can soothe you with a soft soul ballad or pull you in with traditional hard core blues standards. Mary’s high energy vocals are sustained by gutsy guitar riffs, masterfully executed by Keith Grimes. Raice McLeod’s skillful and soulful drumming seals the group’s foundation. The Mary Shaver Band is a force with which to be reckoned.

The Washington Post has defined Mary as a “blues-icon in the making”.

The Band:

MARY SHAVER, vocals

Picture this…a five year old with fiery curls that shadow the famous Bonnie Raitt, an artist this girl will one day come to be compared to, pulls out an old ukulele to serenade a family audience at her grandmother’s house with “Hello Dolly” – again and again.

The little girl grows up and buys her first record albums. Janis Joplin is a favorite. Later she sees Stevie Nicks in concert and is mesmerized by her sultry vocal delivery. These are the sounds that inspire a teenager’s passion for blues and R&B – music with grit and soul.

Mary Shaver has been singing all her life. She is first and foremost a blues artist influenced by the likes of Slim Harpo and Big Mama Thornton. She labels her own style as “Texas, Louisiana and Chicago Blues meets Memphis Soul,” and local critics and musicians have likened her powerful voice to all her idols. But her path as an artist has not been a particularly straight or smooth one.

Her twenties saw Mary’s music confined mostly to acoustic jam sessions with friends. (Remember, in addition to six-string guitar, this woman plays a mean ukulele.) Then, in 1989, Mary joined the rock/blues cover band One Thin Dime. They had a few original tunes and opened for some national acts. But as is often the case in the competitive music business, the band members each had day jobs and other interests. They never got around to recording and Mary grew restless.
Priority for her music had to be juggled with the bill-paying necessities and challenges of everyday life. Mary returned to school and now works full-time as a paralegal for a non-profit organization. Yet she has long had the inner awareness that recording was in her future. Her catalyst came in the form of personal maturation and family crisis as Mary’s fortieth birthday loomed and her mother was in a near fatal auto accident. In early 1998, Mary found herself making the difficult decision to leave One Thin Dime to create music on her own terms.

She had some savings. She had her talent and her voice. It was time to finally say “yes!” to her driving desire. Over the next 16 months of obtaining rights, gathering musicians and finalizing a varied play list of classic and less covered blues and R&B tunes, Mary, with the help of Nighthawks drummer Pete Ragusa as producer, assembled and cut her first disc, No Time Like Now. It was a long time coming, a labor of patience and love.

The release of her first album raised Mary’s profile on the DC music scene, and built a buzz around her live shows. Regular airplay of No Time on WPFW 89.3 FM, and Wammie nominations for best female blues vocalist followed, along with hard-earned respect from fellow musicians. Tapping this momentum, Mary gathered a group to include guitarist Keith Grimes and drummer Raice McLeod, both original players with the great Eva Cassidy. Since then, the Mary Shaver Band has had steady gigs at blues festivals and favorite local clubs.

Soon the group will move its performance chemistry to the studio. A live album, recorded at Blues Alley, will be followed up with a studio CD where original songs of Mary’s and Keith’s take center stage. No Time Like Now was mostly cover tunes, and since then, Mary has focused on her songwriting – a crucial component to shaping her voice as an artist. Mary’s evolution is also evident in her broadened scope of genres – soul, R&B, hints of jazz – new directions first nurtured by Pete Ragusa, and later Keith, who introduced her to Stax Records material.

Music is an all consuming passion for Mary, evident in her hectic schedule. When not playing with MSB, Mary can often be found belting out old-school blues with Dave Sherman (guitar) and Roger Edsall (harmonica), a pair she’s known since 1999. They are blues purists, whose emotionally raw rhythms draw out much of the very best in Mary’s vocals. Mary has also joined forces with Cindy Cain and Janine Wilson as Les Tomates Chaudes / The Hot Tomatoes, an all-girl blues power trio that delivers the goods on such classics as Etta James’ “I Prefer You.” And yes, it is a mystery where the hell she finds the time.

Born and raised in Prince George’s County, Mary still calls Maryland home and has a special affection for local audiences and outdoor venues. To see her play live is to truly experience Mary’s music. With complete focus she becomes, in her own words, “entranced. All I know at that moment is what I’m singing.” For her growing following of fans, that moment sounds just perfect.�

KEITH GRIMES, Guitar

Keith Grimes’ first instrument was a treasured Mickey Mouse music box guitar complete with side crank. From these humble musical beginnings, he has emerged as one of the top rhythm & blues guitarists on the D.C. scene, these days favoring his Fender Telecaster, no side crank necessary.

Lessons began at age 10. Once he got beyond his pop-folk Kingston Trio days and obligatory crush on the Beatles, Keith fell in love with Soul and the Blues. He came of age listening to the likes of Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and Sam & Dave. As a teenager he connected to the aching emotional depth of such Soul classics as Redding’s “Pain in My Heart,” while it was the Blues that delivered inspired solos by B.B, Freddie and Albert King.

Keith is a fortunate musician, always able to support himself through his art, both teaching and performing (though he did once pull an eight month stint on a survey crew amidst the gator-filled Louisiana swamps – but that’s another story). On stage he plays electric guitar, preferring acoustic for at-home jam sessions.

In the 1970’s, Keith played the East Coast hotel circuit with a show band, “The New Censation.” The 80’s saw him making music with blues/soul man Billy Price. Of career highlights, Keith is quick to point to his work on Eva Cassidy’s “Live at Blues Alley” CD. And indeed, playing for audiences provides the truest highs in the business – moments of brilliant improvisation when the music is at its most raw and unrefined and the sheer physical, adrenaline-pumping nature of the show guides everything.

Keith first connected with Mary though a mutual friend, bringing drummer Raice McLeod on board to form the Mary Shaver Band. By Keith’s own description, the band “grooves on the corner of blues, funk and soul, with fluid guitar lines wrapped around Mary’s vocals, which are by turns tough and tender.” It is a musical partnership they, and their fans, are clearly enjoying.

Musician, voracious reader, and duckpin bowling enthusiast; Keith is a renaissance man. Born and raised in Washington, DC, he now resides in suburban Maryland and is father to a 20 year old son.

RAICE MCLEOD, drums

Raice is a New Zealand native, the youngest of four children, born and raised in a rural village on the North Island. Perhaps a too quiet childhood spent on a sheep farm disposed him to seek out percussive sound. Perhaps music was an energizing escape from the rigidity of military education. Whatever the subconscious forces at work, in 1967 Raice picked up a set of drums, began experimenting, and never looked back.

Following graduation and a brief stint in the army, Raice began his career with a Top 40 band covering hits of the decade’s favorite artists — the Beatles and Beach Boys, British Invasion to Motown. Entirely self-taught, he expanded his repertoire playing with Australian jazz singer Ricky May. By the early 70’s, music was taking him around the Pacific to Japan, Thailand, Fiji and Hawaii. Moving on to Europe, he toured with Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richards, and Jackson Heights. Needless to say, his road stories are not for family consumption. America’s music frontier beckoned.

Raice came to the U.S. in 1975, traveling, drumming, and finally settling down 15 years later in the Washington, D.C. area. It was then that he hooked up with Eva Cassidy, and along with Keith Grimes, Lenny Williams and Chris Biondo, lit up the D.C. music scene as the Eva Cassidy Band until cancer claimed the great singer in 1996.

Keith brought Raice on board to complete the Mary Shaver Band. It is only his second regular Blues gig, though to hear him use his sticks, you’d never know it. Raice appreciates and nurtures a diverse range of music; from R&B and funk, to top 40 and rock. He enjoys Mary’s mix of originals, Motown, and more, but admits his first love is jazz — straight ahead and bebop. The artistry of Bobby Colomby, Steve Gadd, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, and brush master Ed Thigpen has inspired him over the years.

Outside of the Mary Shaver Band, Raice plays with Jaared Arosemena, Tonia Woods, Melanie Mason, and the wedding band Galaxy. At his daytime gig, he is Senior Marketing Manager for CD Publications in Silver Spring, Maryland. And in those precious few moments of free time, Raice, by his own account, is prone to shoot, fly and drive too fast. Is it any wonder that drummers have a wild rep?�

Official Website: The Mary Shaver Band

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