Influenced by family, Guy Marshall, a Knoxville-based singer-songwriter folk band, seeks to tell stories through its songs.
Named after vocalist and songwriter Adam McNulty's grandfather, Guy Marshall performs "songs of a time in which family and honor meant more."
Writing songs long before Guy Marshall was formed, Adam McNulty was formerly "playing out of the bedroom." However, through connections made at their local church, Adam McNulty and his wife Sarrenna McNulty played their first show August 2011 at Vienna Coffee House in Maryville.
"We enjoyed that people enjoyed that (show) to whatever degree. People that played with us in the church got together, and two and a half years ago, we started practicing as a band," Adam McNulty said. "We wanted to start doing something different. We played for six to eight months before we got a gig, and then we started playing shows and having fun."
To continue getting booked, the band recorded a four-song demo to give to venues. That demo, while intended to be temporary, morphed into the band's official EP.
"We didn't intend for it to be our album, but it turned out pretty darn good," Sarrenna McNulty said. "Jamie Atkins did a great job recording it. It's worked out OK that we haven't recorded another album."
Finished in December 2011, the EP was recorded in nearly one take minus the overlay of the vocals. Gathering in a room, the band recorded what Adam McNulty calls "almost a live EP in a way."
"So, it was done pretty raw and pretty fast," he added. "We just knocked them out quick."
Guy Marshall is currently working on its first full-length album. The album will include eight studio songs along with possible live recordings. Hoping to release it by summer, Sarrenna McNulty said the band has been "plugging away at that."
Playing off sounds from times past, Guy Marshall often hears that they sound like The Band. Also influenced by Bob Dylan, Adam McNulty's earlier songs hint at his folk sound. Lately though, Adam McNulty has listened to older country such as Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson and has translated their sounds into Guy Marshall's music.
"Adam is the only writer. Eric Griffin is in the band, and he writes with Adam a little bit," Sarrenna McNulty said. "But usually, it seems like Adam will have a faint idea of a story, pick around on the guitar and comes up with a melody or guitar riff first then finds the words.
"Most of the time, the songs come out of his practice time. He plays through songs that he's already written and then comes up with something different. He never says, 'OK, I'm going to write a song.'"
Currently, Guy Marshall plays once every month or two, often at Preservation Pub. Formerly, the group "pushed hard in Knoxville" and tried to do at least four shows per month. However, with band members having jobs and families to balance, they had to cut down their number of gigs.
The band is taking a big next step, though: a spot on the Rhythm N' Blooms lineup April 4-6.
While the festival seeks to include a variety of local bands, Guy Marshall's previous attempts to play never panned out. This year, a friend of Chyna Brackeen, co-producer of the festival, said she would put a word in for the band. That good word got them on the schedule which Sarrenna McNulty said the band members "were pretty excited about."
"Just the fact that a lot of people come from out of town and make for a greater Knoxville nightlife," Sarrenna McNulty said. "And we get to meet other bands, which is cool just to always be networking and let people know about the music."
Looking to connect with audiences, Guy Marshall has a particular song that it believes stands out among the rest. Written in 2009, "Cigarette Smoke" was one of the band's earlier songs about his grandfather.
"People say it is really relatable," Sarrenna McNulty said. "It's a sweet song about childhood, but also about the sadness of people passing away."