Portland’s Playlist Drop-In-Session with MarchFourth!

By | Teri Briggs

Portland’s Playlist was lucky that MarchFourth! returned to Portland in time to bring them into the studio at Portland Radio Project for a special segment. ​If you are not familiar with this band, you need to get them on your radar because they are not your ordinary band, they are extraordinary!


Photo by Teri Briggs

It was in 2003 that John Averill and a group of friends came up with the idea to throw together a marching band to play at a Fat Tuesday parade that happened to be on March 4th that year. What resulted was the birth of the March Fourth Marching Band. Now 13 years later, it has transformed into a full fledged band, MarchFourth!, that plays over 100 shows a year, all around the world.
What’s so great about a band that sounds kinda like a marching band you might wonder? Well, let me tell you. This is a band that defies categorization. Sometimes it’s a marching band, sometimes it’s a jazz band, or funk, Afro-beat, Gypsy Brass, or outright rock. Sometimes there are vocals, sometimes not. It’s part circus, part vaudeville, but always a “visual kaleidoscope of stilt walkers, acrobats”, and musicians who will “take you on a joy-inducing, booty-shaking, soul-stirring journey” that will leave you “flabbergasted and breathless”. Once you see a MarchFourth performance you will be hooked for life, and will return to their stage every chance you get.

Photo by Teri Briggs

Fortunately for Portland, the band returns to their hometown every March 4th to play their infamous anniversary show. This year, they are playing three shows at the Crystal Ballroom; two all ages performances on March 3rd, and a 21 and over show on March 4th. The March 3rd shows are fundraisers for their Joy Now Arts Project, a local non-profit, founded and operated by MarchFourth members. They offer programs in music, acrobatics, and performing arts to youth ages 5-18. Proceeds from these shows will help provide scholarships for underprivileged students.

Luke and Teri talked to John Averill, Paul “Pablo” Chandler, and Aaron Lyon. We heard about the breakdown of the tour bus, just days before they were to return home after a month long tour; their songwriting process and acrobatics choreography; the 11 day recording session in New Orleans, and much more.  Not spending enough time in Portland these days, the band loves to play this annual show because they can reconnect with their roots and where it all began. Giving and receiving the love from an audience that adores this wacky, colorful, energetic bunch of uber-talented musicians and entertainers is just what they need to recharge their tour weary bodies.

Photo by Teri Briggs

Do yourself a favor and get your body down to the Crystal Ballroom and see why this band is known and loved the world round, you won’t regret it. Instead, you’ll become a full-fledged member of the greatest “circus” on earth: the MarchFourth family, and will be known as a participant in what some call, the “Audience Liberation Party.” I can’t think of a better party to be in in these current times.

Ticket information for their March 4th show can be found at: http://www.crystalballroompdx.com/events/148170-MarchFourth-13th-Anniversary-Spectacular

Luke Neill

I host "Sounds of PDX" every Tuesday from 7-9pm.

At my core, I am a musician, songwriter, producer, studio owner/engineer, and, most importantly, a lover of all things music. It is my goal to help connect listeners to local artists by providing music and live show reviews. I believe we should all be searching for the next thing that inspires us.

I am originally from Arizona, where over many years, I played in several different independent bands in the Phoenix and Tucson areas. I put in many, many hours of grassroots-style promotion in order to get my bands heard. I am extremely lucky to now live in Portland, OR, where we have one of the most vibrant music scenes in the nation.

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