This band is your band

Providence Journal, August 31, 2017

MarchFourth will bring eclectic sound to Rhythm & Roots

By Andy Smith, Journal Arts Writer

The band is a cross between a funky New Orleans brass band and a circus troupe, complete with dancers and stilt walkers.

It all started in Portland, Oregon, in 2003. Bassist John Averill and his friend Dan Stauffer decided to put a band together for a Fat Tuesday party. The party was on March 4, so the March Fourth Marching Band — now called MarchFourth, or sometimes M4 — was born.

This weekend, MarchFourth comes to the Rhythm & Roots Festival in Ninigret Park in Charlestown, performing on Saturday and Sunday. It’s something you don’t want to miss, said festival producer Chuck Wentworth.

Imagine a cross between a funky New Orleans brass band, with lots of percussion, and a circus troupe, complete with dancers and stilt walkers. The performers of MarchFourth like to wear outlandish outfits that look as though they came from a yard sale jointly held by several bankrupt marching bands and a defunct circus.

“We’re an alternative big band for the present day,” Averill said. “Fun is the key word for us. ... We like to put on an inclusive dance party, get the audience involved. We always had the dancers and other performers, from day one. We wanted to create that good party vibe. We take the music we play seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously.”

The band might be best known these days for its song “Gospel,” which was featured in the 2013 Pixar movie “Monsters University.”

Over the years, MarchFourth grew organically from its Portland roots.

After that original Fat Tuesday party, Averill said, MarchFourth played at a protest against the Iraq war. Then members formed a sort of social club that met every Monday, and started playing gigs in and around Portland.

In 2007 the band bought its first bus — it’s now on bus No. 3 — and started touring. At the moment, Averill said, MarchFourth has 15 people on stage, and he acknowledges that it’s an economic challenge to tour with that many people.

“Those are things that you don’t think about when you’re putting a band together for a party,” he said.

At one time, back in the Portland days, there were as many as 35 performers in MarchFourth, but Averill said the band’s membership has pared down since then in order to tour.

“We’re playing more sophisticated music now. It’s a little less cacophonous than it used to be.,” Averill said. “We definitely have a funk and New Orleans influence, but we also do rock, jazz, lots of different genres. ... If it’s got a groove, we’ll play it.”

MarchFourth Issues A Musical Call To Action On New Album, “Magic Number” [Stream/Review] Posted by Rex Thomson on Tuesday October 11th, 2016

The madness and mayhem of a MarchFourth live show has been distilled into pure sonic form on their latest release, Magic Number, and it’s quite an amazing feat. Primarily known for their senses shattering performances filled with costumes, acrobatics and costumed finery, the band is more than capable of delivering a solid collection of tunes. Stripped down to their sonic core, MarchFourth shows the big band sound of eras past is more than viable to modern day sensibilities.
Listen to the album below, and follow along with our in-depth review below. (Spotify)

Kicking things off with a brassy blast from the horn section “Call To Action” serves as just that for listeners, urging them to their feet and onto the nearest dancing surface. With Galactic sax man Ben Ellman serving as producer, you’d be right in assuming that the album is filled with horn melodies. Ellman corralled fifteen members of the band into New Orleans’ famed Parlor Recording Studio for an intense, compact recording session, resulting in concise, toe tapping numbers like the swirling and energetic opener.

It would be easily understandable and even forgivable if MarchFourth filled Magic Number with rampaging instrumentals, but on “The Quarter Master”, the band slows the tempos and introduces a vocal sensibility that uses echo and chorus to accurately capture the band’s live sound. A vaguely mariachi tinged horn line and an explosively propulsive beat drives the title track while a wise examination of life’s ups and downs and the importance of watching out for each other is relayed. A wicked guitar solo erupts in the center of the track adding diversity and a wicked heaviness thus far untapped, adding fresh dimension and fury.

You don’t reach out to one of the standard bearers of the Nawlins funk sound without hoping to add some of that delicious flavor to your own. Tracks like “Push It Back” show these influences, while still retaining the band’s independent spirit. The fuzzy guitar line of “Inventing The Wheel” and the methodically plodding drum beats provide a delicious dichotomy between the follow the leader brass line, before erupting in a harmonica led explosion.

Wound throughout this disc are guest appearances by some of NOLA’s finest, who manage to lend spice without dominating the overall flavor of the band. Legendary drummer Stanton Moore lends his stick work throughout adding to the authenticity of the sound without ever overstating his presence. “Hot Stepper,” an universal dance tune that seems so perfectly suited to serve as sonic shorthand for party music in any film or TV project that one wonders how long it’s going to take for Hollywood to come knocking and shows off the percussionists additions to mix wonderfully.

Thanks to the upbeat nature of the material, MarchFourth’s music is so intrinsically positive that it can’t help but elevate the listener’s spirits on a mental and spiritual level. No song more exemplifies their effect on the psyche than “Science,” whose lyrics urge you to free your mind and soul from the chains of society. The irresistible beat and dynamic arrangement allows each piece of the band to contribute to the composition with their own style, somehow seamlessly uniting for a pure slice of funky positivity.

MarchFourth has much to be proud of on Magic Number. Their decision to go into the studio with a solid deadline and distinctive production plan has resulted in a tight, joyous album. Each song is a celebration of their musical identity, each note coming from a place that is wholly their own. Managing to be both idiosyncratic and universal is an impressive feat by itself, but doing it while maintaining a completely infectious spirit is a move that shows the maturity and comfort of MarchFourth. They are truly modern masters of the big band sound.

Album Review: MarchFourth 'Magic Number' (The Daily Country)

Prepare your ears for a sonic delight with MarchFourth’s fourth studio album, Magic Number, which was released on September 30th. Recorded in New Orleans over ten days at The Parlor Recording Studio with producer Ben Ellman (Galactic) and engineer/producer Mikael “Count” Eldridge (Tycho, Trombone Shorty), Magic Number is a groove filled, full throttle explosion of swagger, funk, and joy.


Whether the song is an instrumental (opener “Call To Action”) or includes a vocal (the soulfully hip title track), there is an electricity pulsing through each note and an undeniable sense of exhilaration emanating from the (fifteen or so) players that is downright infectious.

In addition to those regulars, the album features guest spots from percussionist Stanton Moore on the funky “Push It Back” and Trombone Shorty, whose solo ignites the sensational “Inventing The Wheel.” The album also includes the R&B flared “Hotstepper,” the vibrant can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head “Drunk Bears” and “Jan Jar,” which is infused with metal undertones. Magic Number is rounded out with the elevating, energetic “Science (Free Your Mind),” and the mosh pit ready “It’s A Trap” before closing with the gentle “Endless Highway.” Brimming with saxophone, trombone, tuba and trumpet alongside electric guitar and percussion, Magic Number merges different styles into an exuberant and creative tour de force.

MarchFourth will continue to tour all over the United States in support of this album through the fall and into 2017. For more information visit their     

MarchFourth Takes Stand For LGBTQ Rights By Performing In Drag [Photos/Videos

Live for Live Music 05/16/16 Read the full article here

"Following the new laws in North Carolina against the LGBTQ community, and the recent concert cancellations that some headlining acts chose to respond with, members of MarchFourth decided to respond to the situation in a different way. After a late night drunken conversation about the matter, the band unanimously decided to go forward with both their North Carolina shows, in Durham at Motorco and headlining the LEAF Festival outside of Asheville, in full drag."