A Steampunk Anthem

P.D. Kelley

My winter doldrums have been blasted away after I enjoyed March Fourth’s performance on Friday, February 9th.  I defy anyone to remain glum after being treated to this eclectic band.  Imagine traditional marching band instruments (plus electric guitars) played in a variety of musical styles from hip hop to rock to modern swing to funk to Dixieland.  Then see musicians wearing some parts of band uniforms, all mismatched, madcap and glitzy, and you get most of the picture.  Finally, bring in acrobats and stilt walkers for a Cirque de Soleil feel and the picture is complete.  Well, not quite because the rambunctious sound, the stellar musicianship, and the synergy of the players was just spectacular.  Everyone on stage played to the crowd and they had the spirit of old vaudevillians, engaging the audience with high energy.  The Rogue responded and almost everyone was hopping and bopping for two hours of joyous abandon.  The band got its name from the date of their founding, March 4th, 2003, which that year was Fat Tuesday, or the last day of Mardi Gras when wild celebration explodes before the beginning of Lent.  Appropriate, I think, for M4 (as they are nicknamed) definitely has a Mardi Gras, ‘let’s dance and sing ‘till we drop’ feel as well as the sound of New Orleans style jazz on occasion.  There were many in the crowd who obviously follow this group and they were wearing their own glimmering capes, hats and other whimsical attire.  I feel like I just went on a small vacation and I might have to bring up some March Fourth on You Tube  this coming Fat Tuesday, February 13th.

Opening for March Fourth was a local band from the Applegate, Intuitive Compass.  Jason Dea West and Aurelia Anne Cohen play what has been described as vaudevillian folk music or western swing.  Some have used terms such as rag time or jug band.  Whatever it’s called, it is rich and bold and toe-tappingly good.  Both musicians play a variety of instruments but tonight it was Cohen on the accordion and West on a 1934 National Resophonic steel guitar.  Some might call it a resonator guitar.  Cohen explained that there is a metal plate inside that works as an amplifier and the instrument was often used in vaudeville acts to project sound before the days of electronic amplification.  The crisp, bright tone was just right for the band’s style and repertoire.  Joining them this night was Eric Jones on the stand-up bass and this trio was just outstanding.  Intuitive Compass managed to sound old timey and also fresh and original.  They travel all over the region but play locally as well.  I’ll be on the lookout to hear them again.

Catch you on the flip side…