Knoxville, Tenn., rock band Quartjar was originally known as the New Randall Brown Quartet. We shortened the name because (1) it was too long and (2) we have pretty much always been a trio. At the core of the band are singer/songwriter/guitarist Randall Brown and drummer Donnie Mahan. Our fine and talented bass players have been Stephen Kabalka, Brian Williams, Doug Engle and Greg Wood. We lose bass players like Spinal tap lost drummers. They don’t blow up, they just keep moving away! But we keep on truckin’.
Bandleader Randall Brown is a writer, musician, journalist, photographer, Man-About-Town and, most recently, a stepdad. His songwriting has been described by critics as “quirky and literate,” and he likes that summation.
Donnie Mahan is an ex-soldier, a dad, a rock’n’roller for life and, most recently, a vendor of fine fruits. He translates a historically hard-rock drumming style into the bluesy Americana vein, offering up an assertive, creative sound that is all-too-often lacking in contemporary music.
The music is bluesy rock’n’roll, with some country/Americana tinges. Thus, Randall often tells folks that it’s “quirky, literate blues-rock.” If he remembers, he might also mention “from a punk-rock/alternative background.”
Doug Engle is the primary bass player on “Years of a Monkey.” His participation helped get this disc rhythmically enhanced. Then, as mentioned, he had to move away.
The album was originally going to be titled “Year of the Monkey,” but production was halted at times by technical roadblocks and procrastinated at times by social demands. Since the recording took us so long, and the songs come from various times in the life of Mr. Brown, we dubbed the album “Years of a Monkey.” To twist around a classic Beatles lyric, the monkey is Randall.
Auxiliary band members on “Years of a Monkey” include fine Knoxville-area musicians Chris Cook on lap steel; Laith Keilany on oud; Peggy Hambright on fiddle; Jane Crowe and Trish Davis on backing vocals; Greg Horne and Leslie LaChance on piano; and Todd Steed on bouzouki.