Adam Levy's DIY 360 Featuring Mary Jane Alm

By Erin Finnegan

On Friday September 20th – Mary Jane Alm, IPR Instructor and recording artist, Joined Adam Levy for this week’s DIY 360. She was accompanied by band members Boyd Lee (guitar/backup vocals) and IPR Instructor Scott Nelson, (percussion/vocals). For years Mary Jane and her band have been staples to the Twin Cities music scene, and IPR is proud to have her as an Instructor. So it makes perfect sense that Mr. Levy invited her to the table for his final installment of this quarter’s DIY 360.

No introduction was necessary as Levy signaled with pointed finger and the jam-packed crowd cheered as Alm, Nelson, and Lee took the stage.

“I have never wanted to do anything else besides music”, said Alm and the band began to play.

Boyd, Scooter, Mary Jane

Mary Jane Alm has a special connection with music. Whether through writing, performing or singing in the car, MJ has been consumed by music since childhood. “There was never a pivotal moment in my life where I realized I wanted to do music. When I was growing up, I would listen to the radio and always state, ‘Oh, I love this song!’, or ‘This is my favorite song!’ to every song that came on.  That’s just always how I’ve been” she explained.  As she grew, she became infatuated with the flute and went on to major in classical flute in college. At that point in her life, singing was something she did on the side to make extra money.  But Alm eventually formed a band.

Percussionist Scott Nelson was born in California, but he moved to Minnesota as a junior in high school. He played drums and sang in various bands until he met Alm over 25-years ago.  Guitarist Boyd Lee moved to Minnesota in 1986. He got his start by working in the video and film industry.  As the years went on he began to miss playing music and joined a band called Space Heaters. Space Heaters lasted about eight years before he met Alm and Nelson. Alm needed an acoustic guitar player and invited Lee to join. The three have been together ever since.  Alm laughed as she said, “Once you’re in my band you can’t leave.”

Following another “number” the floor opened for questions and Alm was asked “How do you pick what songs you’re going to put on your album?” She answered with confidence,” some songs I wrote by myself, others are ones I co-wrote and some are songs from my favorite musicians.” Since the album in question is her first in 25 years, she wanted it to be about her personal, musical identity. Both she and Producer Steve Hodge put together the record that Mary Jane feels she always wanted to make. So she decided to create a blend of musical styles and her new album reflects this.

She was asked how she thinks drawing from a variety of genres has affected her musical journey and again responded with poise, “I’m comfortable with it but it makes other people comfortable. I like that my music doesn’t fit into one category because I love all types of music. I’m happy with where I’m at and that’s all that matters.” Applause filled the room as the audience showed their approval.

It’s fitting that Mary Jane guested the last DIY 360 for the quarter. She is an amazing human being, a gifted artist, and dearly loved as a member of the IPR family. And she brought with her a winning message for IPR students: as long as you’re happy with your path in life, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

To learn more about what Mary Jane Alm considers to be the album of her dreams, visit this link.

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