With its mix of eight horn players, four percussionists, an electric bass — along with a couple of acrobats — MarchFourth is Portland's funkiest rock 'n' roll circus party.
"There's a lotta funk goin' on in the band," says frontman John Averill. "We experimented with our early stuff. Think Victorian steampunk mashed up with Burning Man."
MarchFourth, Los Angeles funk and soul band Orgone and hip-hop, R&B and electronic dance music producer and rapper Lafa Taylor will perform at the fourth annual Spookadelic Halloween Funktacular on Monday, Oct. 31, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 the day of the show, and can be purchased online at liveatthearmory.com or at Music Coop, 268 E. Main St. Gates open at 8 p.m. The show is open to age 21 and older.
Taylor and Orgone will open for MarchFourth, whose fourth album, "Magic Number," was independently released Sept. 30. Fifteen musicians from MarchFourth traveled to New Orleans and spent 10 days recording at The Parlor Recording Studio for the band's first studio album in over five years. With producer Ben Ellman (guitarist for Galactic) and engineer and producer Mikael “Count” Eldridge (Tycho, Galactic, Trombone Shorty) at the helm, "Magic Number" is full of the captivating grooves and brassy swagger fans have come to expect from MarchFourth — along with a hearty dose of New Orleans magic and guest appearances by Trombone Shorty, drummer Stanton Moore and sousaphone player Matt Perrine.
"I hear an evolution to our music," Averill says. "There's more vocals going now, and we're adding guitar and expanding percussion."
“Unlike our previous albums, recorded over weeks and months in our hometown of Portland, getting the band to New Orleans for a 10-day recording session really created an intensity and electricity we could feel throughout 'Magic Number,'" recalls founding member, cymbal player, singer and tour manager Dan Stauffer. “After long days at The Parlor, the band members would go out to party on Frenchman Street and sit in on sets all over the city. Meanwhile the producers, Ben and 'Count,' would create mixes late into the night. That's the mojo you can hear on the album, everything going for 10 days straight."
“It is also the first record by MarchFourth," Averill says. "We officially dropped 'Marching Band' from our name.”
“Working with the talented songwriters and musicians in MarchFourth made the project go smoothly," Ellman says. "Wherever the band goes, it sort of sets up camp … that led to a creative working environment. It's always exciting to work with a band that is open to experimentation and different possibilities. MarchFourth came in wanting to expand their sonic palette from what they've done previously.
"Four of the band's members wrote the 11 songs on 'Magic Number,' including Averill, trombone player Anthony Meade, trumpet player Paul Chandler and electric guitarist and baritone sax player Taylor Aglipay," Ellman says. "They had a clear vision of where the songs should end up. There are different styles on the record, but as a whole, it's very cohesive."
Moore makes an appearance on the song "Push It Back," carrying the listener off on a royal litter of afro-funk. Trombone Shorty blows a blistering solo on "Inventing the Wheel,” a musical journey into a heavy hypnotic groove. The track also features Ellman on harmonica. Matt Perrine of Bonerama plays sousaphone on the uplifting and soul searching “Science (Free Your Mind),” which radiates all the energy of a street party in a full-on brassy explosion.
Other members of MarchFourth appearing on "Magic Number" include Katie Presley on trumpet, Daniel Lamb on trombone, Jon VanCura on guitar, saxophonists Michelle Christiansen, Cameron DePalma, Andy Shapiro and Jon VanCura, as well as drummers and percussionists Jenny DiDonato, Cheo Larcombe, Will McKinney and Jake Wood.
With a load of fresh material, MarchFourth channels swampy voodoo vibes steeped in the brassy New Orleans traditions. "Magic Number" kicks off with the aptly named “Call to Action,” featuring MarchFourth-style second line music, calling on folks to "get on up and shake yo’ tail feathers."