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Monday, March 30, 2015

The Macpods - by Hemptress Jolene

     The Macpodz have been Michigan’s answer to Psychedelic Jazz Jam since forming in 2006.  My first Macpodz experience was in 2008.  The scene was Hoxeyville Music Festival nestled in the woods of the Manistee National Forest just outside of Cadillac.  It was the first year at a new site and the buzz was all about the headliners the Macpodz from Ann Arbor, a groovy jam band with high energy and a hard jazz influence.  As they played to please that Hoxeyville night, I fell in love with their psychedelic jazzy sounds, funky drums and amazing horn driven by trumpeter Ross Huff. What a tasty music treat....The Macpodz, lead by bassist Brennan Ducan-Andres gave a high energy performance that can’t be beat. Amazing jazz piano played by Jesse Clayton twinkled through the dusk as they set the sun at Hoxeyville that year.

     We traded wares for their new CD Orchestrate, and I was hooked like a fish on a worm.  When they played Traverse City, I was there.  In Ohio, I got to see them perform with John Sinclair and I was entranced by how their smooth bass and jazzy piano gave wings to John’s words.  They got in at Blissfest and we danced long into the night.  It was in fact four great years of loving the Macpodz, following them around the state to groove and dance to the special brand of Jazz. 

     And so it was that on December 31 of 2012, I found myself at the last Macpodz set in that current make up, the group that I have loved since 2008 was evolving.  It was time for some of them to take some time to pursue other musical endeavors. Jesse, the piano player was off to play ‘Math Games’ and ‘Citizen’, Nick was off to worldly pursuits and Griffin was playing with several different bands.  Brennan and Ross gigged all over and still performed intermittently as the Macpodz with a wide range of changing characters.

     I ran into Brennan this solstice and he announced to me that the Macpodz were back with a new CD.  He had got them back together, Ross Huff, Griffin Bastian, himself with a couple of good new musicians.  You can just imagine my excitement, so I decided to sit down with Ross and Brennan to get the scoop as they get ready for their new CD’s Hash Bash Release Party at the Blind Pig.

MMMR: What have you guys been up to the last few years?

Ross: “We haven’t been fully stopped, but we haven’t been green light going.  I have been freelancing with various bands, putting together horn section for various recording projects and working on some of my own projects.”

Brennan: “Me and Ross have been strategizing different ways to make the band happen without getting stressed over it. Plus I have been playing with like 20 different Bands.”

MMMR: Why a new
album now, what is the motivation?

Brennan: “We’re getting some work, but we want to get more work, but no one has been hiring because we don’t have a new album out.  We had a bunch of songs we had wrote since Jesse and Nick left the band, we figured we would record those songs and let people know.....”

MMMR: How has working with John Sinclair influenced your music?

Brennan:  “I’d say.... he was the reason the band started in the first place because he needed a band to back him up back in 2005. And it was me and Nick and Jessie, and then we just did that, and then we really like playing music so we kept doing it.  Then we ran into Ross..... So in a way he just inspired us to get off our asses and do the right thing.”

MMMR: You play a lot of concerts for the cannabis community. What is it that keeps you coming back to support our cause?

Brennan:  “Mostly we just want to see the same thing everyone wants to see which is justice for Cannabis in the State of Michigan. Non-criminals should no longer be prosecuted for nonviolent acts of smoking herb. We’re from Ann Arbor, it is the land of fucking liberal pot laws.”

Ross:  “And not to like harass the Squares here, but like people who support the liberation of cannabis tend to like have a better time. I don’t mean to like call anybody out or anything, but like it is just a more excepting general vibe, you know.... not as much paranoia, while maybe about certain things, but it is like way more excepting in general of whatever it happens to be, you know, anything from same sex marriages to rescuing puppies.... the community tends to be fairly expecting of a lot of things.”

MMMR: What is it that keeps you guys coming back to the Macpodz?

Brennan: “Well, basically when UV Hippo went on hiatus, we realized there was no live bands left in the tradition of the early 2000’s jam band funk theme.  We knew we could supply and that there would be a demand for it.  We didn’t want the opportunity to go by the wayside. . . We figure people need a band to play the party music.”

MMMR: What does the future of the Macpodz look like?  What can fans look forward to?

Brennan:  “We are trying to do more free concerts, in the spirit of like a rainbow people party  . . . trying to figure out how to get money from rich people so poor people can dance for free.”

Ross:  “I think this album is gonna be a lot of fun. We had a pretty good time making it, I say we’re full into it.”
Brennan:  “We trying to get around the state. . . where feasible, and we are also trying to get our music over seas, or over the pond like to Japan. . . “
MMMR: Who will be making up the Macpodz this time?

Brennan:  “Well, Griffin is coming back and we added a guitar played for the time in like ever. . .”

Ross:  “Yeah, a young gun from Chicago named James Cornelison . . . . . .”

     As we continued to talk, my excitement grew.  One of the things that I think is great about Michigan’s music scene is it is ever evolving.  From the end of one thing something new and amazing can be born.  Every Michigan music lover should look forward to seeing  the Macpodz this summer around the state and hearing their new CD at Hash Bash.  As always you can catch the Macpodz the Saturday of Hash Bash in Ann Arbor at the Blind Pig.  I know that they will bring a high energy performance full of love and jazz.  

     For more information on the Macpodz and to book them for your live event check out  The Macpodz currently are:  Brennan Duncan Andres- Bass and Vocals, Ross Huff- Trumpet and Vocals, Griffin Bastian- Drums, James Cornelison- Guitar, plus an ever present and changing cast of special guests.

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