Matt Butler | Photo Provided
Featured Interview with Matt Butler from the Everyone Orchestra
Matt Butler is the conductor for the Everyone Orchestra. He is currently stationed out of Portland, Oregon. This year has been another busy year for Butler. We caught up with him before a set of shows in the Northeast. After talking with Butler it is clear that he is passionate about music, giving back to communities all around the world, and creating unforgettable moments that can take listeners to new levels in a live setting.
Q. Can you describe how you are going to create the lineup for this weekend, (April 19-21)? Would you like to talk about how you are going to put together the lineup for this weekend, and how it may be different from other situations?
A. I would say there is two real distinct ways that we do this, when creating an Everyone Orchestra show. One is the festivals, where primarily I am asked to create a lineup built out of individuals that are already there with their bands. Maybe I will bring in a couple special guests or something, but the primary gist of it is that the Everyone Orchestra is a great mutual meeting point for musicians, and this and that for others too. You can bring in a couple special guests to add to the excitement of the overall who is going to be at the event, and who is going to be in the mix with the improv. What we are doing this weekend is basically putting together a collective group of Everyone Orchestra past participants to do a series of shows. The really cool thing about these shows is the musicians get time with two full sets to stretch out, and really get into the improv. The music gets into a little bit of a deeper space, and the musicians get a little bit of a deeper connection with each other as the tour goes on.
The primary goal of what I do in bringing these people together is to put them on stage, and to create this truly spontaneous, reactionary musical creative environment. It’s not really premeditative, much at all. The musicians really have to be awake, be aware, and stay connected and ready to move in any direction that the band goes in. The intent behind this musical gathering is co-creation. As a group on stage, we are aiming to co-create some incredible music that is not just chaos, or avant-garde jazz. It can be anything, but what we all want is to make the people apart of it. So, when I turn around and get the audience to sing something, say we created a simple lyric like ‘We’re One’ or just ‘Water’. The audience is singing, and I will turn the band down just a bit. All of a sudden we are a cohesive organism performing a piece of music that we all just co-created. When that gets recognize from the musicians standpoint, and the concert goer standpoint, I feel like that is the most powerful piece of what the Everyone Orchestra does. When we accomplish that, I feel really good about what I am doing.
Q. Which musicians are the easiest to work with? Is there a formula to creating synergy? Do you feel what you do is a style of synergy, or something different?
A. I often use the word alchemic. I think there is synergy, and there is the magic between all of the different elements that we bring together. I’ve definitely had non-synergist energies on stage that have an incredible alchemic possibility that emerges. I’m willing to take a lot of risks, as far as putting different instrumentations, personalities, languages, cultures and whatever on stage, and trusting my abilities to work with everyone as a team. The only times that it really didn’t work is when someone was drunk, or the ego was so big, that is was too scary to break down, to let go, and go with the group synergy or energy. It’s a flat hierarchy on stage. If someone isn’t playing the game with everybody; everybody else immediately knows. (laughs) It is different then any other gig.
Q. There has been recent studies showing the positive benefits that music can provide to people on emotional and psychological levels. Do you feel that the concert experience is a way for concert goers and musicians to put in effort that may produce greater results afterwards?
A. The Everyone Orchestra can’t fall back into the map of playing a song you have done again and again. The comfort zone is embracing not knowing where it’s going, and being aware and listening. I think there is a real relief in that for a lot of people to kind. The players come back because they just have to show up, and have a good time and create. They are just like, “let’s do it”. They can jump in blindly and happily to what’s going to happen next. They rebel in not knowing what is going to happen next. There are other people that just want to play a song. Being in that space of not knowing is a little uncomfortable to them. It’s good for my creativity to be put on the spot like that, and have to react, and be a little afraid. It is healthy for my creative spirit to be put into the creative space, so that is why I go back to the Everyone Orchestra broth when I can.
Q. Last year the Everyone Orchestra performed twice at the All Good Music Festival. Do you plan on creating an entirely unique performance this year, or do you see yourself bringing back some of the elements from the year before?
A. The EO sets are very unique at All Good because they are so short. It is like a 35 minute set. So, we say, “Let’s jam the f*ck out of this one.” Maybe we will kind of change into it, but you really have to get into faster. I love it, I really do love it. It’s a short set, but a huge crowd. It’s really fun.
Q. Is there any shows or events you are excited about right now?
A. I kind of work on a first show basis. I can feel the energy building to the Boston show on Thursday (04/18). In light of the tradey, I feel that there is a lot of musical heeling and celebration to go on to bring people back to peace, taking care of each other, being present in the moment, and not regretting any moment of this life. Two weeks after that I will be in New Orleans doing a crazy late night JazzFest celebration. I’m definitely in reverence to the whole music culture from New Orleans. I have the blessed opportunity to play with some of the greats. To do EO down in New Orleans, I’m really excited about doing that. The last time I was in New Orleans it was my third EO I had ever done. I need to count on how many shows we have done, but it is over 100.
For more information link into the Everyone Orchestra website.
Everyone Orchestra ‘Werewolves of London – 10/27/12 – Sullivan Hall, NYC’
Everyone Orchestra to Begin a Three-City Tour Across the Northeast
It is time to jam out with the Everyone Orchestra for a three-day, three-city tour across the Northeast. Everyone Orchestra features a rotating cast of musicians conducted by the very entertaining Matt Butler. This musical experiment follows no method. Sky is the limit as artists from different genres come together to push musical boundaries to make for a unique and eclectic performance.
Matt Butler is able to communicate with not only the musicians, but also with the audience through an interactive dialogue. He puts cues on a dry erase board that he holds to signal key changes, tempo changes, and other fun stuff that creates quite the jams. If you want to be part of a performance that will go down in history, put on your dancing shoes and get ready to listen toAl Schnier (moe.) on guitar,Vinnie Amico (moe.) on drums,Kalmia Traver (Rubblebucket) on vocals, Alex Toth(Rubblebucket) on trumpet,Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) on bass, Trevor Garrod (Tea Leaf Green) on keys, and Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) on the saxophone. Marco Beneventowill join the lineup on keys in Philadelphia only. Another epic addition to the performers is legendary rocker Steve Kimock.
I had the honor of seeing Steve Kimock for the first when the Rhythm Devils played at Gathering of the Vibes in 2011. Steve, along with Bill Kruetzmann, Mickey Hart and frontman Keller Williams performed amazing Grateful Dead renditions that had a certain element of reggae and funk to them (my favorite being “Eyes of the World”) that made it impossible stop dancing. This will be the first time this stellar crew is performing together, so do yourself a favor, buy a ticket and head out for this unique musical experience!
April 18th: South Shore Music Hall, Boston, MA
April 19th: The Blockley, Philadelphia, PA
April 20th: The Cutting Room, New York, NY
Aaron Redner (Hot Buttered Rum)
Adam Deitch (Break Science)
Adam Dotson (Rubblebucket)
Adrian Tramontano (Kung Fu)
Al Schnier (moe.)
Albert Suttle (Perpetual Groove)
Alex Toth (Rubblebucket)
Allie Kral (Cornmeal)
Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass)
Andres Vial (The Barr Brothers)
Andrew Barr (The Slip, Surprise Me Mr. Davis)
Andrew Hendryx (Yarn)
Asher Fulero (Halo Refuser)
Bibi McGill (Beyonce)
Billy Cardine (Acoustic Syndacate)
Black Nature (Sierra Leones Refugee All stars)
Blake Christiana (Yarn)
Bonnie Paine (Elephant Revival)
Brad Barr (The Slip, Surprise Me Mr. Davis)
Brad Houser (Critters Buggin)
Bridget Law (Elephant Revival)
Bryon McMurry (Acoustic Syndacate)
Chris DeAngelis (Kung Fu)
Chris Hauser (The Werks)
Dan Lebowitz (Animal Liberation Orchestra)
Dave Brogan (Animal Liberation Orchestra)
David Satori (Beats Antique)
Derrick Lee (The Lee Boys)
Dino Dimitrouleas (The Werks)
Eric Bloom (Lettuce)
Erik Yates (Hot Buttered Rum)
George Porter Jr.
Ivan Neville (Dumpstaphunk)
James Casey (Lettuce)
Jamie Janover (Zilla)
Jamie Masefield (Jazz Mandolin Project)
Jans Ingber (The Motet)
Jarrod Kaplan (Taarka, Trillian Green)
Jay Sanders (Acoustic Syndicate)
Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band)
Jeff Sipe (ARU, Phil Lesh and Friends)
Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band)
Jessica Lurie (Living Daylights)
Jimmy Herring (Widespread Panic)
Joel Cummins (Umphreys McGee)
John Kadlecik (Furthur)
John Morgan Kimock
Jon Fishman (Phish)
Jonny Dreadlocks (Soul Rebels)
Julian Fritz (Satya Yuga)
Kalmia Traver (Rubblebucket)
Luke Quaranta (Toubab Krewe)
Marco Benevento (The Duo)
Mark Karan (Ratdog)
Matt Hubbard (7 Walkers)
Matt Warner (Bronze Radio Return)
Michael Harrison Berg (Van Ghost)
Michael Kang (String Cheese Incident)
Mike Dillon (Les Claypool)
Nat Keefe (Hot Buttered Rum)
Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band)
Norman Dimitrouleas (The Werks)
Paul Hoffman (Greensky Bluegrass)
Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green)
Rob Chafin (The Werks)
Rob Griffith (Bronze Radio Return)
Rob Somerville (Deep Banana Blackout)
Robert Mercurio (Galactic)
Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce)
Sarah Page (The Barr Brothers)
Sasha “Butterfly” Rose
Steve Adams (Animal Liberation Orchestra)
Steve McMurry (Acoustic Syndacate)
Sue Orfield (Tiptons Sax Quartet)
Tanya Shylock (Mountain of Venus)
That One Guy
Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth)
Tim Palmieri (Kung Fu)
Vinnie Amico (moe.)
Weedie Braimah (Toubab Krewe)
Zach Gill (Animal Liberation Orchestra)
As the new year begins, we here at the Macro Management Group wanted to take some time to say thank you to all of our friends, family and clients for all that you do. Without all of you, we wouldn’t be able to follow our dreams and do what we love. Thank You!
2013 is already off with a bang as The Broadcast joined The Fritz for a SOLD OUT New Year’s Eve show at the Asheville Music Hall. Diving into a more rock sound, The Broadcast has been preparing to head into Echo Mountain Studios to record their new album this winter. The band is very excited for its tentative Summer 2013 release. Look for The Broadcast this festival season, as they have been added to many festivals across the nation.
The Lefty Williams Band had a great 2012 and 2013 is looking just as busy. The band will make their way to the Northeast for the first time in February. Jason “Lefty” Williams recently sat-in with Everyone Orchestra in Charleston. It was his first time with the project.
2012 was one of the busiest years to date for Jahman Brahman. Not only did the band perform in festivals across the nation, but they released an EP (…And the Storms That Swarm), performed with The Werks for New Year’s Eve and welcomed back keyboardist, Josh Loffer. The new years brings good tidings as the band will make their second trip to Colorado in February and hit the festival circuit in the spring.
Hailing out of Greenville, SC, The Marcus King Band is starting to establish themselves in the Southeast. After a very successful New Year’s Eve show in Charlotte, the band is looking to take on 2013 and become a bigger presence in the Blues community.
One of our more interesting clients, Funktion Forms, traveled all across the world in 2012. The leading aerial visual artist group was a large part of the festival circuit this past year. Taking on events like Camp Bisco, Counterpoint, Lights All Night, Bonnaroo, Treasure Island Music Festival and many more, the group created organic aerial installments that lifted these events to the cutting edge of aerial visual design artistry.
The Donna Hopkins Band recently signed on with the company and could not be happier. Check out their new album, Comin’ Alive, on their website, www.donnahopkins.com
Thanks again for all your continued support!!
Friday October 26th, Saturday October 27th and Sunday October 28th -
Everyone Orchestra – Sullivan Hall – NYC
conducted by Matt Butler – w. Jon Fishman (Phish), John Kadlecik (Furthur), Zach Gill and Lebo (ALO), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) and Jamie Masefield (Jazz Mandolin Project).
UPDATE: FRIDAY AND SATURDAY ARE NOW SOLD OUT. Tickets for Sunday are going fast….get em while they last.
Harmonized Records – HAR040
Available from Everyone Orchestra’s Bandcamp page.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
Conduction is a little known but very interesting beast in jazz and outside musics, a rara avis that cropped up with Frank Zappa and a few other groups but found its most outrageous exemplar in Butch Morris (check out his 10-CD Testament: A Conduction Collection…but only if you don’t mind having to scrape your brains back off the ceiling). Basically, the style is what it implies: a conductor, via baton and gestures, composes/improvises on the spot with a group of musical adepts. You hafta be pretty damned accomplished to engage in conduction in any manner because it requires not only adherence to the desires of the maestro but a cybernetic knack in finding your indexing and voicing among fellow musos, all doing the same thing moment by moment—in the case of Everyone Orchestra, that means nine of ‘em right at your elbow.
Brooklyn Sessions is a mutant, but where Morris sets out to dismantle everything incorporate in the music-making process, Everyone Orchestra digs messing with the knobs and switches, taking the traditional and playing with tempo and the range of incorporability, subtly and not so subtly shifting several modalities within main structures, testing the known peripheries rather than launching for Saturn, and so on. Bass Blanket demonstrates this beautifully, writhing all over the place but in perfect synchrony with its fundamental structure, a Laocoön of understated but striking sets of changes.
Funk Explosion, on the other hand, blends sassy jazz with wah’ed searing rock guitar lines from Al Schnier in order to obtain the sort of vibe the 70s fusioneers (Keef Hartley, Embryo, Gil Evans, etc.) were creating after Miles got the ball rolling. Everyone Orchestra is basically the brainchild of conductionist Matt Butler, whose methods even extend to old Bonzo Dog Band placard waving, and the roster of players is ever in ferment, often including well known sit-ins from groups like String Cheese Incident, Phish, Grateful Dead, the Flecktones, and other luminaries. During performance, Butler might even choose to conduct the audience in its responses as a part of the total environment, so if you catch these cats live, get ready for a little Living Theater. The most interesting aspect of Brooklyn Sessions is the simultaneous presence of the familiar and the unexpected. Thus, when the band falls into a soul-filled intro followed by a krautische passage at the outset of Take Off Your Clothes, you’re hardly surprised to find Lonnie Liston Smith alongside the Funkadelics alongside Neu. In the Great Music Melting Pot Era, Everyone Orchestra has a definite place.
Take Off Your Clothes
Talk to Me
All songs “written” by Everyone Orchestra.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Everyone Orchestra | Brooklyn Sessions
album review by John Powell
Who ever thought Everyone Orchestra could make a studio album? By very nature, Matt Butler travels festivals in search of willing participants in his bizarre experiments- taking all manner of powerful artists, everyone from members of Rubblebucket to Grateful Dead, and putting them on one stage, holding up signs with words like “Breathe” on them. The musicians interpret them and jam out.
So how in the hell did Matt pull off a studio album?
Firstly, he got together Jon Fishman, Marco Benevento, Jamie Masefield, Jans Ingber, Jeff Coffin, Steve Kimock, Reed Mathis, Al Schnier, and Jen Hartswick. He gave them two days in a Brooklyn studio, and helped everyone cut loose.
Brooklyn Sessions is very experimental. It’s not for those that love tight pop songs. It’s got some key jazz musicians in the group, so it’s got that feel to it, and there are crazy solos and the like. It’s funky, soulful, and at times chaotic, but never ever too atmospheric for the palate, (my original concern).
“Boots”, for instance, does not sound improvised. Complete with lyrics, sick solos, and everything in between, it sounds like a traditional soul tune- I think it’s the horns that brings this about.
“Explore Space” was definitely what Matt had written on his white board for the band. Cutesy mandolin paces the band, and everyone holds back in classic jam fashion. This is very much a modern hodgepodge of jam musicians; it just has that feel to it. Marco Benevento scores, ripping on keys for the latter half.
The real homerun is “Take Off Your Clothes”, which has Jen Hartsick improvising sexy lyrics while Reed Mathis steals the show on bass. The funk jam rides on a super sexy groove that never falters in seven minutes.
Fishman kills it, man. Yes, the group is all exceptional musicians, but none of this album would be possible without Jon’s contribution. He taps into the heart of funk and groove. As the wiseman of jams in the group, he’s somewhat of the sage that brings about the magic that happened in those two days.
Possibly a stellar party album, Brooklyn Sessions is easy on the ears, heavy on the groove, and if nothing else a successful experiment. How awesome to have Al Schnier kicking it with Jamie Masefield, and who doesn’t love Reed Mathis?
Basically, if you love jam music, this is your composite sketch if all of them had a baby, delivered with ease by Dr. Matt Butler, M.D. (Music Diviner)
Bottom line: What a great idea, and done so well. Jams in a Brooklyn studio with heavy hitters.
Earlier this month, Matt Butler’s Everyone Orchestra, participated in a four day run in Colorado, including a special three night affair at Quixtotes’ in Denver.
Featuring musicians Steve Kimock, John Morgan Kimock, Al Schnier, Jans Ingber, Jamie Mansfield, Reed Mathis and Pete Wall, Butler led the improvisational group through a collection of the group’s original arrangements from their latest release, The Brooklyn Sessions and a few “off the cuff” tunes.
Throughout the summer, Butler will lead the Everyone Orchestra at multiple events across the nation. Don’t miss your chance to see this exciting experiment of live, improvisational music. For all summer and fall tour information, go to www.everyoneorchestra.com.
Here are a few videos that capture the group’s interaction in the improv realm.
Today is the release of one of our most anticipated records, Brooklyn Sessions by Everyone Orchestra.
This group of all-star musicians including Jon Fishman (Phish), Al Schnier (moe.), Steve Kimock, Marco Benevento (The Duo), Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) and more, was put together by conductor and founding member, Matt Butler.
For several days, the group went through exploration and co-creation. The results range from hard-hitting grooves that take unexpected twists and turns (“Boots”), to sweet and expansive (“Pensive”), all with a spirit that is both liberated and focused.
For more information, go to www.everyoneorchestra.com
MATT BUTLER CREATED the concept for the Everyone Orchestra in Marin a decade ago. But Saturday night will be the first time he’s conducted it in the county where he first conceived of the radical idea of an interactive, improvisational jazz-rock jam band.
I’ve never seen the Everyone Orchestra (EO) live, but some concert videos I watched this week had me chair dancing in my cubicle. Steve Berlin of Los Lobos likens the EO experience to getting your spiritual passport stamped.
There aren’t a lot of conductors in rock to emulate, if any, but Butler’s violinist mother was a founding member of the Eugene Symphony, and he got to see some classical conductors close up when they stayed with his family while he was growing up.
“I’ve been inspired by John Zorn and a lot of the avant-garde improv conductors,” he told me from Portland, Ore., his hometown, where he moved after years in West Marin’s San Geronimo Valley.
Maestro Butler first impressed me when he was the drummer for Jambay, one of the best of the Bay Area jam bands in the ’90s, in my opinion. In hindsight, I can see the roots of EO in Butler’s 1999 solo album “The Redwood Project,” with its living room jam session feel and layers of percussion.
The 42-year-old Butler picked up some psychedelic showmanship when Jambay was the pit band for Ken Kesey’s play “Twister,” and he likes to conduct wearing a custom-made top hat and tails, looking like the ringmaster in a sonic circus.
Leading the orchestra, he dances around, signals for solos and uses dry erase boards to convey key changes and ideas for a groove. The board might say “funk in A,” “gentle beauty,” “hard edge rock,” “down in the dumps” or “chain gang.” The rest is up to the musicians.
“There are no preparations for it,” says guitarist Steve Kimock, best known for his improvisational work with the progressive Marin fusion band Zero. “You get your instrument, he holds up the white board and everyone just goes.”
The audience has its own part to play. Butler encourages them to clap in time, dance, sing along. He’s been known to turn to the crowd with a sign that says “Wow!”
“It’s all about exploring together and embracing the musical moment,” he explains.
He got the idea for the Everyone Orchestra from a multinational open mic night he saw while traveling in India. The players didn’t speak the same language, but they were able to communicate through music and improvisation.
Butler was living in Woodacre at the time, and when he got home, he started hosting open mics at the San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center. It gave him and multi-instrumentalist Zack Gill of Animal Liberation Orchestra and Jack Johnson (yes, THE Jack Johnson), a neighbor of Butler’s, the opportunity to experiment with different forms of improvisation.
“The idea of a facilitated jam session, not completely free form, but with some kind of structure, became my focus,” he explains. “I’ve been molding it ever since.”
He and Gill came up with the all-inclusive name Everyone Orchestra, and the ensemble made its debut at the Fillmore on New Year’s Eve 2001. Over time, Butler moved from behind his drum kit to the front of the stage, becoming the fiery conductor of an evolving, interactive, improv orchestra.
Over the past decade, he and EO have performed for up to 150,000 people, primarily at large festivals where there are lots of bands to pick players from and big crowds to play for. He’s enlisted an ever shifting cast of musicians from the Grateful Dead, Phish, moe., String Cheese Incident, the Flecktones, Club d’Elf, ALO, King Crimson and Tea Leaf Green, among other outfits from the jam band circuit.
To make his shows even more out there, he’s thrown Tuvan throat singers, live painters, dancers, chanters, choirs, hula hoopers, firespinners, jugglers, stiltwalkers, storytellers and a U.S. senator (super liberal Dennis Kucinich) into the mix.
“It’s been kind of a wild ride,” he laughs.
Butler recently took EO into the studio in New York, and on May 15, “Brooklyn Sessions,” the debut EO album, will be released. It features Butler and guitarist Kimock, drummer John Fishman from Phish, keyboardist Marco Benevento, guitarist Al Schnier from moe., singer and trumpet player Jen Hartswick from the Trey Anastasio Band, Dave Mathews Band saxophonist Jeff Coffin and bassist Reed Mathis of Tea Leaf Green.
On Saturday, Butler brings EO to Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley with a lineup consisting of multi-instrumentalist Michael Kang (String Cheese Incident), guitarist/singer Mark Karan (Ratdog), hammered dulcimer player Jamie Janover, multi-instrumentalist Mike Sugar, drummer Julian Fritz (Gamelan X, Shimshai) and singer Sasha “Butterfly” Rose.
“I feel very at home in Marin,” he says. “It’s great to be coming back and playing some music.”