Rockin’ blues guitarist Eve Monsees didn’t waste any time. Born in Houston in 1983 and an Austin resident since age eight, she got her first guitar and began taking lessons at age twelve. At fifteen she began sitting in on blues jams at Austin clubs, and within a year she was getting her own gigs, including an opening slot for Jimmie Vaughan at Antone’s. In 2002, the year she graduated from high school, she along with drummer Mike Buck formed a band soon to be known as the Exiles. In 2004 their self titled debut album, was released.
By then Monsees had already gone through her purist phase and come out the other side with a taste for a more garagey kind of blues that’s the contemporary equivalent of the Rolling Stones’ early career.
Devolping a wider range has given her the opportunity to play with bands ranging from the LeRoi Brothers to the Go Gos.
Early on, Monsees learned more or less in tandem with her neighbor and schoolmate Gary Clark Jr., now another of Austin’s most promising blues guitarists.
“We basically began playing together, showing each other what we’d learned, turning each other onto records we’d discovered,” she said.
Over the next couple years, Monsees began picking up on Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and other Austin blues cornerstones. Then she encountered Albert King’s compilation of 1966-8 Stax sides, King of the Blues Guitar. After that, there was no turning back.
She began hanging out at Antone’s Record Shop, getting a crash-course in blues history from the staff (including Buck), and boning up on her Magic Sam, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker and Freddie King.
For the next couple years, she was interested in nothing except real-deal blues. On her fifteenth birthday, she and Clark went to a blues jam at Babe’s on Sixth Street in Austin, and they wound up returning regularly. Monsees and Clark were quickly hired to join other bands for a night, or given their own gigs where a rhythm section was hired.
Around this time, local blues patriarch Clifford Antone took both Monsees and Clark under his wing and allowed them the opportunity to play with Hubert Sumlin, Lazy Lester and other greats at his namesake club’s annual birthday celebration.
Monsees learned how to play with other blues based musicians while refining her own luminous leads and deft rhythm work. This led to a regular gig with bassist Erin Jaimes and guitarist John McVey, who instilled the importance of rhythm guitar.
At the age of 18, Monsees took a job at Antone’s Record Shop, a store Clifford Antone opened in 1987. Her tastes broadened, as she discovered jazz, older country and rock and roll while building up her own record collection.
While working with Buck, the two realized they shared a similar vision for a band and began to assemble the Exiles. The original line-up along with Monsees and Buck consisted of Speedy Sparks on bass and Grady Pinkerton on 2nd guitar.
Eve and the Exiles proceeded to carve out a niche on the Austin club scene. In March of 2004, they released their debut disc in mono which was recorded at Fort Horton Studios with tube equipment exclusively for that classic 60s sound.
The band reformed with LeRoi Brothers bassist Pat Collins, guitarist Homer Henderson and Donna Pearl. "Blow Your Mind" was released in 2008 and led the band to a tour of Finland.
In 2007, Monsees was approached by Kathy Valentine (then bassist for the GoGos) and Dominique Davalos to join the Bluebonnets, an all girl rock band. Things clicked and 2010 saw the release of the group's first CD "Boom Boom Boom Boom."
After working with Valentine, Monsees was asked to fill in for Jane Weidlen of the GoGos for the remainder of their 2008 tour which consisted of dates in Texas and Florida.
In 2011 Monsees and Buck went back to their Blues roots and formed Thee Unseen Eye along with Sonny James on guitar and the Mighty Gil T on bass.
Monsees continues to play with a variety of bands and has been featured as a guest on various recordings. In 2008, she and Mike Buck (along with long time Antone's employee Forrest Coppock) became co-owners of Antone's Record Shop where they spend most of their time during the day.