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‘MarchFourth!” Brings Rock ‘n Roll Circus Party To Tech

SOCORRO, N.M. February 15, 2016 – You’ve heard of steam punk – now get ready for “steam funk,” as some 20 musicians and dancers bring their high-energy and highly popular touring show to New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 25 in a Performing Arts Series event.

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MarchFourth! comes to Macey Center on Thursday, Feb. 25. 

 

This booty-shaking, genre-breaking big band known as MarchFourth! blends funk, rock, jazz, Afro-beat, gypsy brass and classic big band with a visual kaleidoscope of stilt walkers, acrobats, and Vaudeville-style dancers/performers.

With its original compositions, colorful costumes and hilarious stage shenanigans, MarchFourth! is more than a band, more than the collective sum of its parts as its diverse cast of performers delivers a multi-faceted experience sure to delight audience members of all ages.

“It’s difficult to describe a MarchFourth! performance because it’s so incredibly unique,” said PAS Director Ronna Kalish. “Each performance is a showcase of diverse entertainment genres that come together in a rousing, high-energy blast of music and dance with a circus-like theme. It’s like Vaudeville meets Mardi Gras in a beat-and-rhythm fever-dream.”

The troupe takes its name from the date of its first performance on March 4, 2003, when band leader John Averill, who was putting bands together for various events around Portland, Ore., formed a marching band with a group of pals for a one-off Fat Tuesday Parade.

Fat Tuesday 2016 has come and gone, but Tech Club-Club Macey is recognizing the day’s New Orleans traditions by hosting an event prior to the show from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. featuring Creole gumbo with sausage, red beans and rice; the event is open to adult members and non-members alike.

Averill acknowledges that prior to the Portland parade, he and his friends had no intention of actually forming a band.

“Now, over a decade later, MarchFourth! has evolved into a modern-day big band spectacular with elaborate costumes and dancers and acrobatics,” he said.

At any given time, the group has some 30 players on their active “on call roster” for performances, including several of the original members, who rotate per tour. Most are Portland-based, but some members live around the country and are either flown in for the tour or are picked up by the bus along the way.

Each tour group showcases 15 musicians (including five percussionists, seven horns, bass, guitar and vocals) and from three to five dancers and acrobats. Original material accounts for 90 percent of the group’s repertoire; band members compose songs aimed specifically at the troupe’s unusual mix of players and instruments.

This year marks the group’s first tour stop in the Land of Enchantment. Among the band’s 100-performances-annually itinerary, MarchFourth has performed in Germany, The Netherlands, Canada, and France, in 2013, the band was invited by the U.S. State Department to tour China.

MarchFourth! has amassed its share of fans – and “UberFans” – according to Stevie Jay, the troupe’s publicist and spokesperson.

“I met them eight years ago, and it was clear there was some kind of destiny for us knowing each other,” Stevie Jay said. “The band’s got UberFans at various tiers of fandom, but I pretty much won the prize. There are a few of us on this high level of involvement, and then hundreds of less-rabid UberFans scattered around the country. I’ve definitely transcended UberFan status at this point – and having entered the realm of Jewish Mother and all-around pain in their collective butt.”

Stevie Jay explained the band’s mode of travel. “They essentially live together year-round, traveling the country in a custom-designed, self-sufficient touring bus with provisions for cooking and sleeping accommodations for 22 people,” he said. “The band tours for three to four weeks at a time, returns home to rejuvenate for a few weeks, and then hits the road again.”

His description perhaps best reflects what show-goers can expect:

MarchFourth! is like John Philip Sousa meets The Partridge Family in a Tantric Yoga Class ... on steroids.”

Active performing members for over a decade include Averill, Dan Stauffer (founding member, percussion), Jenny DiDonato (snare, conga), and Daniel Lamb (trombone).

“Dan (Stauffer) and I have known each other since our college days in L.A.,” said Averill. “Neither of us was a music major. I was a graphic designer, doing model design and stop-motion animation. But then I decided to pursue music. I started late.”

Three other founding members, Faith and Nayana Jennings (twins), and Nathan Wallway, together with Averill and Stauffer, still serve as the band’s managing directors. Former members are forever part of the MarchFourth! Family (considered “M4 Alumni”) and often meet up with the band on the road and take the stage for the night.

“As you have probably guessed by now, this show is going to be the talk of the town, so I encourage everyone to buy tickets early, strap on your seat belts, and enjoy the ride!” Kalish said.

Sponsors for MarchFourth! are Socorro Springs Restaurant and Brewery, KUNM, Sofia’s Kitchen, the New Mexico Tech Student Government Association (SGA) and America’s Best Value Inn..

Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for senior citizens 65 and over, and $10 for youths 17 and under, and are available online at www.nmtpas.org, or at the N.M. Tech Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), Socorro County Chamber of Commerce, Sofia’s Kitchen Drive-up, or at the door.

– NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech