Sally Rose Monnes started playing music in bars when she was 13 years old. By that time, she had already been writing songs for five years and playing guitar for two. Now, at nearly 24, Monnes is an integral part of two local bands: The Sally Rose Band and Shagwüf.
Monnes sings, writes and plays guitar for the Sally Rose Band (formerly Witchbaby), which started out over a decade ago as a doo-wop honky tonk family band. Her mother, Catherine Monnes, plays electric fiddle and cello; Pete “Sweet Pete” Stallings plays guitar; Ben Jensen plays bass; and Stuart Gunter sits in on drums. “[The Sally Rose Band] is the most vital part of my personal legend,” says Monnes. “I couldn’t quit it if I tried.”
The band is currently wrapping up a new record, one that Monnes says firmly plants the band in rock music territory. “This record is turning out fuller, richer and more heavy-hitting than I ever could have dreamt of,” says Monnes. The band has found some edge.
Perhaps that edge comes from Monnes’ side project, Shagwüf, a hard rock/swamp metal band that satisfies Monnes’ head-banging, power-stancing rock n’ roll appetite. “Shagwüf was intended to be a fun side project for Sweet Pete Stallings and me,” says Monnes. “We were itching to head bang in a hard rock band. Pete needed to shred guitar like in the old days of Secret Ninja, and I needed to learn how to hold steady on the bass like my spirit animal, Kim Deal.”
Stallings gave Monnes a crash course in psychedelia, hard rock and swamp metal [i.e., Black Tustk], and the two started to co-write songs. They added a drummer and a keyboard player to the mix and have been playing shows around town in support of their EP, Heavy Petting. The notion that Shagwüf is a side project for Monnes and Stallings “has become laughable,” she says, because the band is getting ready to go on tour in Mexico.
When asked what she likes best about being a musician, Monnes can’t choose one thing. “It’s awesome jumping around on stage in Shagwüf, power-standing head-banging, axe-crossing. It’s also really humbling when you go to a bar and your tab is covered because someone knows your name and loves your music. Or when you’re driving to work and your band comes on the radio.” Or when Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy is drinking a beer out of a Sally Rose Band coozie backstage at LOCKN’ Music Festival. “All those things make [me] feel like shiny glitter,” says Monnes.
But, she says, the most rewarding thing is seeing an audience get up and dance to her music.