Reno, NV 89502
Reno, NV 89502
Most band practices don’t feel like a family reunion in the backyard. Even before opening the fence gate of the well-kept home off Kings Row, I could hear bass riffs, animated chatter, children giggling and dogs yelping. It’s just another Monday night band practice for Green Mondays—lasagna in the oven, and it’s time to jam.
The band, which has been together for nearly three years, has a new secret weapon. Her name is Donna Crowell, but the band members call her Mama, because she is the band mother, the mom of Agro, the guitar player, and the newest member of the band. As I entered the yard, she was strumming an acoustic bass while Agro accompanied her on the guitar. The 73-year-old great-grandmother is a lifelong musician who plays multiple gigs every week in Reno and Virginia City, and not just with Green Mondays.
“This is really happening,” she says. “It’s a mom’s dream, you know. It’s just so great!” It’s a perfect August afternoon in Reno, and everyone present is playing an instrument, holding a baby or chatting with someone. The mutigenerational band knows how to rock, and the entire blended family participates.
Green Mondays consists of J. Brown, Crowell, Agro, Mier Koller and Mike Tennier, the lead singer and songwriter, who also plays a mean harmonica. A longtime Reno resident and musician, his lyrics are edgy and filled with social and political commentary. The song “Black Helicopters” is a recent work that Tenure: “Not enough riches to let the people just be/ Run Western civilization into poverty/ Trapped middle class prospects I’m doubting.”
“I’m personally most proud of this stuff,” Tennier says of the song. “There are a lot of inside jokes in our songs. … There is a definite level of satire, a lot of metaphors and imagery.”
Although Tennier was working in Elko and had to miss practice, he called in for a teleconference so he could be part of the interview.
Green Monday’s practice is an informal gathering and jam session. The band starts out with “Rawhide,” which somehow makes a seamless transition to “I’m a Believer” and ends with “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Everybody sings along.
“It’s a great way to start the week,” says Brown of the weekly Monday gathering. After the random, entertaining musical medley, the lasagna is almost ready, and the band goes inside to play. Their rehearsal room is a small bedroom with just enough space for a drum set, some keyboards, a laptop and five strategically placed musicians. One of their songs, “Random Radness,” is a highly danceable track that combines Eastern guitar riffs with a myriad of rhythmic special effects. Other songs, like “Wanted,” combine rap, reggae and electronica, creating a well-balanced fusion of melody, beats and lyrics that transcend genre.
While the band has yet to produce an album, they are excited about recording their newest songs in the near future. They play regularly at the Zephyr Lounge and at Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor and are currently looking for more venues. The family feeling of Green Mondays has evolved over time, but Tennier says that at first, band practice was almost like work. Guitar players have come and gone, and now the current five-member band has turned their weekly rehearsal into a weekly music-filled get-together.
“It’s become a vibe,” Tennier explains.
“We’re four guys and an abstract old lady … an O.G.,” adds Agro.
“Sing for your supper, and you’ll get breakfast,” the Original Grandma sings in reply. “Songbirds always eat!”