MarchFourth Marching Band OFFICIAL WEBSITE: homepage.

Our heroic M4 players are finally home and enjoying a much-needed vacation after this summer’s three-week “Murphy’s Law” tour. It won’t be long until we’re on the road again though!

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M4 in the Press

Guardians of Craft

Got Brass

JULY 31, 2014 / GUARDIANSOFCRAFT

Name:  John Averill

Age:  146

Hometowns:  Eugene, OR, then Los Angeles, CA, then Portland, OR

Current occupation:  Bandleader and bass player for MarchFourth Marching Band

Based in Portland, Oregon, MarchFourth (nicknamed “M4″) is a marching band, but not your typical marching band.  They combine musical styles from across the globe and perform high energy shows with powerful sound and dazzling visual displays, including dancers and stilt walkers.  They’ve performed with No Doubt, Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic, Balkan Beat Box and more, and they’ve performed at such festivals as Burning Man.  This Friday, August 1, their tour brings them to the Beer Camp Across America, New England edition, in Portland, Maine.  Apart from aging with apparently remarkable grace (see above), John Averill is the band’s leader, and he generously agreed to take a break from touring and answer some questions from the Guardians of Craft blog.  G-blog is lucky–and grateful.

G-blog:  If funk, klezmer, New Orleans brass, and Serbian brass had an orgy one night, and a child of unknown parentage was born from them, I would say that child could be M4.  That’s how I might describe your sound, in other words.  But how would you describe the band’s sound?

J-Averill:  I’d say that’s pretty accurate.  There are some other missing genetics in the musical lineage you described, the most predominant being rock and jazz.  We’re sort of like Duke Ellington meets Sgt. Pepper with influences from all over the globe.  We’ll borrow elements from pretty much any genre, without having a singular genre to call our own.

G-blog:  Is there something that all the styles and influences that M4 draws on have in common?

J-Averill:  In terms of music, the common denominator is groove.  We strive to play music that moves people and gets them dancing.  In terms of the overall performance of the group, I’d say there is a thread of high-energy inclusiveness that forms the core of our ethos.

G-blog:  Let’s go back to the beginning.  What was “Chow Yun Fat Tuesday”?

J-Averill:  It was a party we threw in 2003 on Fat Tuesday.  I had been doing these “hybrid theme parties” for a couple of years in Portland that were influenced by the Burning Man festival, where the idea was to create a one-off band that learned a specific set of music for each event, and place the band within a multi-media event that included costumes, art installations, performance art, DJ’s, etc.  Chow Yun Phat Tuesday was a mix of Mardi Gras and the Chinese New Year, at least stylistically.  The date of Fat Tuesday in 2003 was March 4th, so we just decided to name the project after the date of the party since it seemed kind of obvious in terms of synchronicity.

G-blog:  Why the mismatched band uniforms?  (And isn’t “mismatched…uniform” an oxymoron?)

J-Averill:  That’s clever!  I never thought of that.  Well, since the event was a costume party then it seemed that wearing thrift-store/vintage marching band outfits would the obvious starting point for attire.  After 11 years we still kind of have that visual aesthetic as the foundation of our style, but we have no hard-core dress code so people are free to create their own variations loosely based on a marching band theme.  The mismatched aspect reflects the reality that we are all individuals expressing ourselves together in a team environment, in addition to the fact that it’s more challenging to find an entire set of matching band uniforms that actually fit everyone.  Plus, marching band pants are ridiculous contraptions that feature sliding zippers to accommodate a few (but not all) sizes, and they usually don’t have pockets.  So, we mostly focus on finding cool jackets.

G-blog:  What aspects of your own individual background prepared you to lead M4?

J-Averill:  The first thing that comes to mind is playing team sports.  I was a soccer freak growing up, and one of my favorite teams was a coed team that my dad coached when I was 12 years old.  We had more girls on our team than any other team in the league, and the other teams would laugh at us before games.  Then we’d kick their ass, and it wasn’t because we were more skilled; it was because we had chemistry and a team-first attitude.  We were like brothers and sisters.  That experience in particular reminds me the most of M4.  In terms of musical background: I don’t have any credentials other than growing up listening to a lot of music and then deciding to learn the bass at age 19.  I don’t have any formal training of any kind, and am the first to confess that in many ways I really don’t know what I am doing or how I’m able to do it.

G-blog:  The first song of yours that I shared with my friend who’s coming to Beer Camp with me was Simplon Cocek.  Since coceks are made for dancing, I was pleased that she promised to dance with me to it, but she confessed she wasn’t sure she knew how to dance to it.  I suspect it’s because of its irregular meter (it feels like 9/8 to me), which a lot of Eastern European brass songs have.  What advice, if any, would you give to someone unsure how to dance to such songs?

J-Averill:  That’s funny.  Whenever we play that song, or another song called Snake Five (which also has an odd time signature), I always scan the audience to see if anyone is dancing.  Usually, at best, there’s one or two people grooving to it.  In general, the types of people who can naturally move to odd meter songs are as follows: children, the elderly sun-baked blissed-out Colorado native, the random transient that stumbles into the free concert, or the person who has obviously taken acid before. My advice would be to literally close your eyes and let your body sort of shimmy about; there is a rhythm there for sure.  The way I move to it is to stay (literally) on my toes and bounce around.  If you try to use your linear brain you’ll just fall down, especially in this day and age where people are trained to move to a clock of some kind.

G-blog:  Can you tell me a bit about the process (or processes) by which most of your songs get composed and arranged?  Is it one or two members who do most of that heavy lifting, or is it more broadly collaborative?

J-Averill:  This band has many composers, and the biggest gift that former members have given us are great songs.  Currently, there are about five or six of us active band members writing for the band.  One in particular is really proficient right now.  Basically, how we work is: people write songs, work out the arrangement, create a demo, produce charts, and then we learn the song as a group.  Usually we accumulate a handful of new songs a couple times a year and then learn them in batches.  The drummers have to work as a section to create the grooves, and the horn players work on the melodic lines.  On bass I just try to glue it all together.  We’re starting to collaborate more these days, but haven’t had the time to work on new stuff because we’re constantly touring.

G-blog:  Two of your songs that I personally love are (the award-winning) Space Hole and also Crack Haus.  (Maybe Crack Haus is also  award-winning, but I just didn’t see that.)  How did you choose those titles?

J-Averill:  Space Hole was written by Robin Jackson (our original tenor sax player) who submitted it to a songwriting contest and won an award with it; he told me he wanted the song to sound like the soundtrack for a science-fiction action blockbuster.  Crackhaus was written by Jason Wells (one of our original trumpet players), and is intended to be a tongue-in-cheek attempt at European techno.  Both of those songs are off our first album, which is 10 years old.

G-blog:  You’ve played with some other great bands, including Pink Martini, Budos Band, Balkan Beat Box, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  Who are one or two bands with whom you’ve not played yet, that you think it would be really fun to jam with, and why?

J-Averill:  For sheer party madness, I think it would be fun to play with Gogol Bordello, but they have it in their rider that they won’t play with bands that have more members than they do, I suppose because size and spectacle are something we both have in common.  I recently stumbled on this band called Zongo Junction (from Brooklyn, NY) who were really great.  I bought their CD and it’s really trancy Afro-beat stuff.  One of the first bands we ever opened for years ago was Antibalas (also from NYC area).  I’d love to open for David Byrne or Peter Gabriel someday, just because I think they and their audience would appreciate what we’re trying to do.

G-blog:  What’s your favorite story from the band’s history that you can tell in brief?

J-Averill:  That’s tough.  We’ve had some fun, improbable, and borderline insane adventures so far.  Right now the most interesting story to me is the one that we’re in the middle of right now, which is: band goes on full-on summer tour wherein our bus breaks down in San Diego, we fly to Colorado and rent vans, four days later bus picks us up in Colorado and immediately breaks down again, then we hustle to Denver, rent three mini-vans and a box truck, and continue across country.  We are now in NYC, and in two days our (presumably fixed) bus is picking us up in Philadelphia to continue the tour to North Carolina.  Then we drive west to Salt Lake City and then home.  So far, miraculously, we have not missed a show on this tour (knock on wood).

G-blog:  Finally, since you’re coming to play at an event centered around beer, I have an alcohol-related question.  If there were a beer or cocktail called the March Fourth, what kind of a beer would it be, or if it was a cocktail, what would its ingredients be?

J-Averill:  In terms of beer I’ll take a crisp German-brewed MarchFourth pilsner any day.  The M4 cocktail would probably be: two shots determination, one shot gratitude, and a jigger of audacity.  Stirred, shaken, then stirred again.  Served with a Jameson’s back.

G-blog is deeply grateful to John for taking the time to answer these questions.  And I’m super excited to see the band perform at Beer Camp.  If you’re there in Portland for the event, and you see a 6’1 Black man grooving to the odd meter of Simplon Cocek, that’ll be me.  And even though I’m usually an IPA man, maybe I’ll have a pilsner in John’s honor.


The Aquarian

Rant ‘N’ Roll: This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Marching Band!

—by , October 23, 2013 THEAQUARIAN.COM

They’re called M4 (for MarchFourth Marching Band) and it’s the closest to Mardi Gras you may ever get without going to New Orleans. Lighting up the festival circuit since their 2003 inception, they’re a nonstop action-ball, a Whirling Dervish, a Saint Vitus Dance and a carnival sideshow all rolled into one. Rock ‘n’ roll tunesmiths Leiber & Stoller wrote a song in 1961 called “Little Egypt” about a belly dancer who came out “wearing nothin’ but a button and a bow.” The two pulchritudinous female dancers shakin’ their moneymakers on the stage of the Musikfest Café in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, weren’t wearing much more and they shimmied and shook and crawled on their belly like a reptile. Two guys on stilts were on either side of the stage and they crawled up the legs of those giants upside down, spreading their legs and wrapping them around the faces of the eight-foot tall acrobatic twin towers. The effect was visually stunning.

Have I mentioned the music yet? Six horns, five pieces of percolatin’ percussion and a funky electric bass pounded out a primal world-beat fit to dance to with Brazilian, African and Big Bayou influences as if they rose from the swamps of Louisiana. Yet they’re from Portland, Oregon. Go figure. Oh, I forgot their Eastern European gypsy swing. And their colorful uniforms. That pounding beat had me at my usual spot just to the right of the soundboard dancing my fool head off for the duration of their 90-minute set.

Totally DIY, this music was all-original, as was the presentation: their own choreography, they even sew their own uniforms. Or so I’m told. I’m also told they constantly tour with a rotating cast of 30 performers. And they have an album out,Magnificent Beast, their third, produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. The live effect, though, is not unlike Cirque Du Soleil. Multi-media to the max. The dancers/stilt-walkers have been known to crowd surf and, on this night, they did a French Quarter-style second line right through the crowd with a trombone-man, a sax-man and a trumpet-man blowing hard and loud in and around the surprised faces at each table. Table? Who had time to sit during this all-out Bacchanalia?

It all amounts to a kaleidoscopic panoply for the senses, a celebratory feast of friends. Do I have to say they blew me away? You could call it a vaudeville circus, a sexy carnivalesque sideshow of animalistic proportions where all sense of decorum is battered, beaten and trampled into submission. It’s an orgy. That’s what it is! An orgy! And it’s in Technicolor. 3-D. I will not soon forget the image of scantily clad beauties crawling up the legs of the stilt-men and hanging upside down, legs spread, breasts straining at the sheer diaphanous fabric. To dance your ass off to the wild Rhumba, Salsa, Samba, Sousa, Cajun and deep-fried Southern soul is one thing. To simultaneously dance, drink and stare unabashedly at the kind of visually stunning performance that sears itself into your brain is quite another.


The Examiner

March Fourth Marching Band (Rating: 5 stars)

Kathleen Creighton October 5, 2013

Last night I ended up at the Stage One venue of Fairfield Theater Company thanks to learning about the show in the last minute. March Fourth Marching Band is a performance troupe from Portland, OR. I learned about this group from some Left Coast friends so I was excited to actually get the chance to see them live.

March Fourth (drum) rolled, tap danced and stilt walked into Fairfield with human marionettes, disco ball helmets, pharoah flutists, and music no one could stop dancing to. By the end of their second set, the only word I kept coming up with was “fun!” Normally when there are that many horns and saxophones on a stage, you expect ska. However, that was the one genre I didn’t hear. Except for one reggae number, to put a name of the musical style on March Fourth is difficult. One minute you’re in a 1920′s speakeasy and the next your bopping on Bourbon Street to New Orleans jazz or in a 70′s club dancing to early disco. The musicians are all masters of their instruments and they work as a tight-knit team. Even when featuring bass saxophone, trombone, trumpet or flute solos the rest of the band provides the perfect background to paint them on.

This is all about interactive performance art. Admittedly there were some points of the show that the audience does observe, like when the stiltwalkers and the dancers/acrobats did the puppets and puppeteer routine. Especially in the small space of Stage One the whole vignette was a bit scary. The audience even got to see, after choreographed falls of the stilt guys, how they get back up on the “big shoes”. Another number a mic’d wooden box was set up to show off the tapping talents of one of the troupe’s dancers. Most songs though were “audience play-along” and during those it was a complete family affair. Young children in attendance were invited to dance on the stage with the group. At their seats, in the aisles and in the pit people from 18-80 were getting their groove on.

Stage One is one of the best venues in the state and the home of a wide variety performers. March Fourth Marching Band was yet another special evening there. I think everyone left smiling and feeling like they got their $20 worth.


CT Post

MarchFourth Marching Band parades into Fairfield Theatre Company
Scott Gargan Updated 3:38 pm, Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The thing about parties is that at some point, they have to come to end.

But this one never did.

It all started in Portland, Ore. in March 2003 when more than 20 local musicians and performing artists marched into a warehouse for a Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras celebration. Using the concrete floor as a stage, the ensemble launched into an impromptu performance that combed covers of Fela Kuti, Fleetwood Mac and Rebirth Brass Band with eye-popping vaudevillian theatrics.

It was supposed to be a one-off gig. But the show was such a hit that the troupe — dubbing themselves the MarchFourth Marching Band after the date of their inaugural show — continued to perform, gradually snowballing into a mobile big-band spectacular with cross-country ambitions.

Now, the party is coming to Connecticut, as MarchFourth Marching Band takes the stage atFairfield Theatre Company’s StageOne on Friday, Oct. 4.

The brainchild of Portland multi-instramentalist John Averill, the group conjures visions of a high school marching band that recently returned from a party-fueled stint at Burning Man. Their music is a swirling tapestry of swing, klezmer, hip hop, jazz, funk, reggae and gypsy punk channeled through a brassy assemblage of saxophones, trombones and trumpets and a freight train percussion corps.

The band’s theatrical dimension features a colorful phalanx of stilt walkers, fire breathers, dancers and acrobats that look straight out of a Bourbon Street carnival.

“I’m not sure why it works,” Averill said in a phone interview last week. “Yet, in the context of show, everything makes sense. The key to it is the fact that the members of this band, both past and present, came to the table with their own set of influences.”

However, in recent years, Averill said, MarchFourth has “streamlined and shaved down sections to a manageable size” — a logistical necessity for an act that is perennially on tour.

“At one point, between 2005 and 2007, there were 35 people in this group,” he said. “It wasn’t feasible to shuttle that many people around the country. Thirteen seems to be magic number.”

The transition from freewheeling street spectacle to coordinated stage act followed the creation of increasingly complex arrangements and the recording of original material. It was also what Averill had originally intended.

In the months leading up to the now legendary Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras party, Averill had cobbled together a series of one-off bands with the hopes of hatching a stable outfit. He just never envisioned it being so huge.

“I was in a lot of bands,” he said, “but I didn’t expect the one that would have legs would have so many legs.”

It was hard not to get swept up in MarchFourth’s speedy and magnificent evolution: Additional members were recruited, original music was released and national and worldwide tours followed. The group shared the stage with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, No Doubt and KISS.

Though MarchFourth is more compact unit now, the spirit of that Mardi Gras performance lives on. The party, as it were, keeps marching on.

“I’ve consciously steered this project in the direction of becoming more of a stage band, but I also want to have street energy,” Averill said. “I’m not interested in a becoming a cirque that’s scripted with songs in the exact same order. I still want to have that raw, live, in the moment kind of experience.”

 


Paste Magazine Video

Paste teamed up with Horny Toad at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival to capture off-the-wall performances around town. Click to watch the feature video they produced.


The Watch

“All Telluride is a Stage”

-Local Perspective by Seth Cagin (August 17, 2011)

There’s a possibility that the Telluride Jazz Celebration could be fined for closing Main Street on Saturday night.

That’s too bad, really. The town ought give Jazz a reward for bestowing on us all a bit of old Telluride magic. The festival can’t really be faulted for not knowing in advance that the crowd attracted by the MarchFourth Marching Band would force the street closure.

The town likes to plan street closures in advance and to approve them and exact proper compensation for the costs involved–as it is a town’s prerogative to do so.

But here’s the thing about magic: You can’t always anticipate or plan for it. When it happens, you sure as hell don’t want to get in its way, either, and the town does deserve credit for quickly closing Main Street when it was clear what was unfolding.

Odds are that the magic is not entirely new to fans of the Portland-based band. This outfit is certainly popular wherever they perform. But I have to believe that the magic they brought with them was elevated by Telluride’s Main Street at dusk.

MarchFourth (M4) was a hit at Jazz, performing first in Mountain Village on Friday and at Elks Park on the Town Park stage on Saturday afternoon. Word spread that they are something special and so a crowd gathered for the scheduled parade Saturday evening on Main Street. It was too much of a crowd to confine to even the wider sidewalk on the north side of the street, as was originally envisioned, so the Town Marshal’s Department had no option other than to close the street to vehicular traffic.

M4 is a circus act, featuring performers on stilts and magicians and baton twirlers, bright costumes, and a musical act inspired by Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and whatever mythical marching band of the imagination inspired the Beatles to create Sgt. Pepper in the first place.

They play “marching” music, not exactly John Phillip Sousa and not jazz, but horns and drums that make you feel good, like you may have felt as a child when you first saw a marching band and could feel the pounding of the drums in your chest. They’re musically tight at the same time they create an impression of controlled chaos and the upshot is an unreasonable sensation of joy.

So this is what the dorks who played trumpet and trombone in your high school band became when they grew up, you think. Who would have guessed they were artists? And yet, weren’t they always kind of cool, really?

Bill Pence, the co-founder and longtime co-director of the Telluride Film Festival, often observed that the town of Telluride itself was a major part of his festival’s success, because it is in that nature of this picture perfect town wedged in a box canyon to allow itself to be entirely overtaken by a modestly scaled event like the Telluride Film Festival and the Jazz Celebration, or at least to seem as if it has been co-opted for at least as long as the event lasts.

So it is with M4 and their command of Main Street for less than an hour on Saturday. Telluride’s Victorian buildings proved to be the perfect backdrop for what M4 was doing, transporting everyone who followed the band up and down the street into a place not really of this world.

I realized later, thinking about the magic of this moment, how often Telluride performs this extraordinary feat, when there are hot air balloons aglow on Main Street, for example, and every year on the Fourth of July. And it’s not just on Main Street or on the Town Park stage that it happens. It can happen when you’re skiing Gold Hill on a powder day, or rafting the San Miguel, or hiking the Sneffels High Line. It might be catching a glimpse of a passing herd of elk on a hillside. It’s a combination of our cool, dry mountain air, the deep blue of the sky, the alpenglow on the surrounding peaks, and the things people do here to express their love of bluegrass music in June and mushrooms in August and of softball and beer in the park.

This is all hopelessly sentimental of course, the kind of sentimentality that anyone is entitled to when they express a love of their home. But on this weekend when the stock market was crashing, again, and the outside world was consumed with talk of a new economic order and ongoing political instability, again, Telluride more than ever felt like a sweet refuge from it all.

We know that we can’t really stand apart from the world. Monday morning will come and we’ll go back to our day jobs and the parade will have gone by. Sometimes, though, there is no percentage in puncturing the illusion that life in this valley is something special.

***


Steamboat Today

Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series closes Friday with a spectacle

A band named after its own birthday must love to celebrate.

And celebrate they do in a spectacular fusion of music, dance and visual arts in the spirit of free expression.

Nearly 10 years after its formation in Portland, Ore., the MarchFourth Marching Band will make its first appearance in Steamboat Springs on Friday in the final show of the 2012 Free Summer Concert Series.

The concert kicks off at 6 p.m. at Howelsen Hill with Billy Franklin Trio opening.

Then, MarchFourth takes the stage with more than 15 members including dancers, acrobats and stilt walkers.

“It’s about music, and it’s about movement,” said John Averill — a founding member, bassist and the group’s bandleader — during an interview with Explore Steamboat on Wednesday:

Explore Steamboat: How did you come to form the MarchFourth Marching Band in 2003?

John Averill: I was sort of putting together bands. … But all those bands were kind of one-offs. This one happened to stick.

It’s been 9 1/2 years, and the band has gone through so many mutations though since then. It’s changed a lot.

We had the spectacle right off the bat. We had the dancers and some drummers. And we only had four horns. Now, the band’s become a real band instead of a community revolving-door thing. What we are now is four dancers, five drummers, eight horns, me on bass and our sax player also plays guitar. We have a lot of guitar in the band. It’s become a big, funky rock band. There really isn’t anything “marching band“ about it.

Instead of a drum kit, we have five drummers that make up a kit. We had all these elements at the very first show, and so we’ve just refined that in all aspects.

The music definitely has stepped up. For the first show, we learned, like, seven covers.

Now, we play all originals. We have some really good writers, and we have developed our very own sound. It’s a very bass-heavy horn sound. What I was focused on in Portland nine or 10 years ago was putting on fun events in the spirit of New Orleans. Maybe not New Orleans, specifically, but maybe more like a Burning Man sort of get-together and bring out all these people and costumes and have a good time.

ES: I noticed MarchFourth will be performing at Burning Man this year. Are a lot of the members regular participants at the festival?

JA: Most of the band has been to Burning Man several times. I went 13 years in a row, and no one in the band or myself have gone in the last two years.

It’s not a big musical festival — you don’t make money going to Burning Man; you spend money going to Burning Man, but it’s returning to our roots.

ES: How has Burning Man influenced MarchFourth as a band?

JA: I think it’s more just the inclusive factor. It’s getting to where the audience is more involved in the show. We do a lot of things to break down that wall. It’s about the atmosphere where people are free to express themselves. That’s one of Burning Man’s better values, the M.O. of free expression.

People are encouraged to freak out and be a part of the show instead of just sitting and watching us.

ES: The Steamboat Free Summer Concert Series is a place where people of all ages come out to see the show. What do you like about playing for families?

JA: I love playing for kids; I love when they freak out. They’re not dancing to be cool. They’re not dancing to try to get noticed. They’re moved by something, and they’re jumping around. It’s so free form. We learn forms of dance: People come up with their cool dance and their sexy dances, but the kids are all about completely dorking out. And we’re dorking out on stage.

ES: Do you guys really make your own costumes? How does that process work?

JA: We find some stuff at thrift stores and vintage stores. We don’t have a dress code or anything uniform. We match because everything’s so mismatched that we all kind of match in some inverse way.

By Nicole Inglis, Steamboat Today (August 16, 2012)


Relix Magazine

Magnificent Beast review (Spring 2012)

Marching bands aren’t just about blaring horns and boosterism anymore. If, at their core, they might bring out the regimental soldier in all of us, then it’s the rhythm that speaks the loudest–whether you’re talking about the New Orleans-style second line or the latest hip-hop hybrid from Young Buck, Outkast or Kanye. Two recent albums accentuate how radically different the music can get, depending on who’s at the controls.

Oregon’s MarchFourth Marching Band (or M4) are the hip fusionists of the genre, folding occasional lead vocals and electric instruments into the latest studio outing, which was produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin. The album borrow from ska (“Soldiers of the Mind”), Bollywood (“Delhi Belly”), rock (“Fuzzy Lentil”), dark zydeco blues (“Rose City Strut”) and more. “Fat Alberta” is M4 at its best–true to the percussive horn lines of the traditional march, and funky-as-all-get-out on the swing meter.


NPR Song of the Day

The idea of an album of marching-band music is pretty funny, but MarchFourth Marching Band doesn’t go for laughs in “Magnificent Beast,” as trombonists, trumpeters and sax players use their horns to build alluring melodies and throbbing beats. The group goes even brassier in “Rose City Strut,” as it’s joined by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s clarinetist, tenor saxophonist and tuba. The Preservation Hall band had come to Portland, Ore., home base for MarchFourth, for a joint concert last April; the New Orleans players agreed to improvise some solos for free if the recording could be made at the concert hall.

The horns push and pull, wail and oompah, share conversations and sometimes seem to have a difference of opinion, but always reunite in blissful harmony. The band was going for a dark, sultry mood, but an optimistic spirit is just as evident. The bah-BOMP-a-BOMP BOMP melody insinuates itself into the listener’s brain, while the pace is perfect for a stroll down the street. The song’s “Rose City” title calls out to a dancer named Rose who performs with the band, but it also functions as an homage to Portland’s nickname. Portland has many musical identities, but here, it sounds like the grooviest place in America.

NPR’s Song of the Day


Missoula Independent: Feature

Thirty musicians walk into a bar…

Portland’s MarchFourth proves the old adage that bigger is better

Last September, around 20 members of the MarchFourth Marching Band descended on the German countryside….

The MarchFourth marching band from Portland, Ore. is comprised of over 30 individuals including brass and drum musicians, electric bassists and guitarists, stilt walkers and dancers. “We’re pretty free-spirited,” says bandleader and bassist John Averill, “and once people see us the whole uptight military-esque stigma of ‘marching band’ kind of flies out the window.” - Photo courtesy Andy Batt

PHOTO COURTESY ANDY BATTThe MarchFourth marching band from Portland, Ore. is comprised of over 30 individuals including brass and drum musicians, electric bassists and guitarists, stilt walkers and dancers. “We’re pretty free-spirited,” says bandleader and bassist John Averill, “and once people see us the whole uptight military-esque stigma of ‘marching band’ kind of flies out the window.”