The Macpodz
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The Macpodz

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF
Band Jazz Jam


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"You can dance to jazz. Again."

Local band The Macpodz is set to release their second album, "Orcastrate,'' and will celebrate the event with a show tonight at the Blind Pig. The band will hit the stage at 9:45 p.m., playing three sets, and the Pig will be nonsmoking for the evening.

As a follow up to their debut album, "Genius Food for Super Heroes,'' the electrified jazz quintet continues the evolution of "disco-bebop,'' their own style of jazz-fusion. The album will first be available to fans at the Pig show prior to its national release on March 1.

Following the CD's release, The Macpodz head out on tour, with stops this year at music festivals such as Wakarusa (in Kansas), Summercamp (Illinois) and Hookahville (Ohio).
The band's mission is simple, said bassist and founder Brennan Andes: "Wherever we go, we try to get people out of their seats and dancing, and we help them to forget about the stresses in their lives,'' he explained. Details: 734-996-8555.

Roger LeLievre, The Ann Arbor News

- Ann Arbor News 2/21/08

"Jazzy, dancey band makes a unique brand of music"

Published January 24, 2008
Local music beat: Macpodz bring mayhem to Mac's

Jazzy, dancey band makes a unique brand of music

Everyone knows the guitar is one of the primary instruments in rock, blues and most any popular music genre.

But what if someone were to take the guitar out of the mix? What if they were to put together a band with a flugelhorn, flute, bass, trumpet, keyboard and drums?

Now that's a wild idea.

Enter The Macpodz. This Ann Arbor-based band is one of the hottest on the scene right now, raking up East Coast gigs and nearly 16,000 MySpace friends with its jazz-infused, dance-happy tunes.

And this band is doing it without a six-stringer.

"The fact we don't have a guitar player is one of the most surprising things about our band," bass player Brennan Andes said by phone. "Our music doesn't really sound like anything people have heard in the past. And I think that is contributing to our success - that we have a sound that's unique in itself."

Listening to a few tracks off the band's MySpace page, it's hard not to get up and move. The style is jazzy and takes cues from greats Miles Davis and John Coltrane. But the sound is also jammy, with a bopping dance rhythm and a friendly pop appeal. And it's experimental, in the vein of Frank Zappa.

That's another way of saying The Macpodz is doing something fresh and different.

Andes says the guys call their music "disco be-bop," a term coined during their first gig in early 2006.

"We were asked to play this house party in Ann Arbor, and we weren't even a band yet," Andes said. "We all got together and started playing these Charlie Parker songs. I had the idea to put a disco beat behind it, and it was completely bonkers and really fun.

"We started expanding on that idea, and it was like an avalanche," he added. "The snowball started rolling, and it got bigger and bigger. We kept taking random jazz tunes and disco be- bopping them out."

While musicianship is important to Andes, he isn't about to ignore another fun part: playing live.

Andes says much of The Macpodz's success is thanks to the band's relentless touring schedule, which takes the guys through a 17-date stint along the East Coast in March: "If we make, like, two fans a night and we do that all year long, eventually people catch on."

He also thanks his fellow bandmates - including lead vocalist-percussionist- flutist Nick Ayers, keyboard player Jesse Clayton, trumpet and flugelhorn player Ross Huff and drummer Griffin Bastian - and his friends.

"Everyone's mutually invested in this and wants to see it grow. We have close friends supporting us. Oftentimes 10 people show up with us to shows, so off the bat the clubs aren't empty."

When it comes to The Macpodz taking over Mac's Bar Friday night, Andes shares this notion:

"Wherever we go, we try to get people out of their seats and dancing, and we help them to forget about the stresses in their lives. America is not in the greatest of times. We're in war, and it's a hard time for Michigan with the economic situation. We show up and try to help people unwind, dance and feel good about life. It's like a pressure-releaser."

Look for a new disc from The Macpodz, which is yet untitled, to be released in February.

- Lansing State Journal

"The Rise of The Macpodz"

The Macpodz
by Elyssa Pearlstein

"Disco bebop" -- if you haven't heard of this musical genre, you have now, thanks to rising local band the Macpodz.

Jazz and rock invigorate the irresistibly catchy songs of the Macpodz. The styles of visionary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and unusual rock composer Frank Zappa heavily influence the band. A performance of a "roller rink" remix of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker's "Dewey Square" marked the official moment the band conceived their signature sound. Bassist Jesse Clayton says that they are creating "a new and unique sound." Other members include trumpeter and flugelhorn player Ross Huff, bassist Brennan Andes and percussionists Nick Ayers and Griffin Bastian.

Some bandmates acquired noteworthy performing experience prior to joining the Macpodz. Andes, the band's founder, spent a decade playing in the local jazz and folk scenes, touring nationally with Smokestack, known as the "Jam Giants of Ann Arbor." He met Huff at the University of Michigan School of Music. The pair collaborated to compose a piece performed by the U.S. Armed Forces Tuba and Euphonium Ensemble in Washington, D.C.

The quintet's first gig was backing poet John Sinclair in early 2006. Lately the Macpodz attract music fans like flies. The band is also bracing to tuck a few large Midwest music festivals under its belt, including Hookahville Music Festival in Legends, Ohio, which draws about 20,000 people. Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois was a destination in June. An East Coast tour starts in September.

Fortune is laying its golden hand on the Macpodz. The band recently hired a manager and its members are moving to a point where the band is their main source of income. The band released its debut album, Genius Food for Super Heroes, in January 2007.

The Macpodz play TC's Speakeasy, 207 W. Michigan in Ypsilanti, on Friday, July 6 at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 ($10 under 21). The band also plays the Blind Pig, 208 S. 1st St. in Ann Arbor, on Friday, July 20 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets for this show are $7 ($10 under 21). For more information about the band, visit on the Web.
- The Current

"The Macpodz, the New Pride of Ann Arbor"

The Macpodz, the New Pride of Ann Arbor

With the Wolverines sucking wind in two sports and Rich Rodriguez leading the U of M football team to two of the worst seasons in the program’s history, Ann Arborites need to look beyond sports for inspiration these days.

Fortunately, one of the nation’s great eccentric cities can fill its fanatical void with a young band called The Macpodz. A long time coming for sure, Ann Arbor finally has its first great jamband; a guitar-less five-piece comprised of brilliant musicians who via bass, trumpet, percussion/flute, keys, and drums, muster up some of the most energetic music on the scene today.

I caught these guys back in May at Sullivan Hall and left floored. Enamored with their sturdy funk-jazz-rock tunes and vibrant stage presence, we caught up with trumpet player Ross Huff to chat about their music as well as some pressing Ann Arbor issues of the day like how long do we give Rich Rod to turn around the football program and what are the important sandwiches in town (arguably the country’s sandwich Mecca).

Hidden Track: To start off, let’s talk about the Macpodz and the old genre topic. Given that the Macpodz music is somewhat rooted in jazz music, yet the band seems to really identify with the jamband scene, do you guys give it any thought about whether or not you want to fully embrace the whole “jamband” thing or do you try to maintain a balance and cater to the more pure jazz scene as well?

Ross Huff: The short answer is that I don’t give it much thought.

I tell people I play in a rock and roll band and they don’t believe me, because it sounds like jazz to them. It doesn’t sound like jazz to me. It doesn’t yet have that level of complexity. We are students of jazz but our performance is based on rock aesthetics.

In the meantime, I’m trying to show that “genre” is an outdated concept entirely. The only important thing is to create living music and to show kids how to play, so music will continue to live after we die. Not our music, just Music, the gathering of humans and the playing of instruments. The great masters are getting old, and many have already passed.

We have to learn everything we can from them so we can continue moving the knowledge. It’s all about the kids. They need to know the value of playing instruments, writing songs, getting together and dancing. I suspect some of them know already. I want to write music that anyone can appreciate. I also want to write music that offends my parents, but they’re too open minded. They’ve enjoyed the least accessible stuff I’ve ever done. I’m not concerned about catering to a scene. The scene should grow around the music, and it will if the music is legit. It’s not about supplying a demand. It’s about trying to do something real, to be a part of something alive. It doesn’t matter who can identify with it as long as somebody does. Music is music. You can call us a jazz band, you can call us a jam band or you can call us modern rock opera, but that’s irrelevant to the point of writing and playing songs. I try to cater to the sensibilities of the guys in the band. We trust each other and we’re working on the sound.

We want to do what serves the music best, what fulfills the function of the song, rather than what we think a certain audience would want to hear. I want to embrace music in its totality, irrespective of genre labels and fan bases.

HT: Can you shed some insight on the recent tour in the supporting slot for Umphrey’s? Did their crowd warm to you guys?

RH: I was expecting to play to empty halls that people were filtering into, waiting for the Umphrey’s set, but every night when we went onstage, the place was packed already. We were thrilled with the response.

You don’t think of rock crowds as a timely audience, but each gig at 8PM sharp, there was a room full of people who greeted us warmly. It seemed like a lot of people took interest in what we were doing. It was very encouraging. It was also helpful to us to see Umphrey’s operation up close. They’re pros on every level.

HT: Got any funny stories about being on the road with them?

RH: Some of our Kalamazoo friends acquired a whole set of purple choir robes from the Goodwill store or something. So in Grand Rapids, they got Ryan Stasik into one of these things and he was preaching the gospel in the green room.

HT: Alright, this is probably the most important question of the whole interview: What is your favorite sandwich in Ann Arbor – and I don’t mean simply the best place, but also the actual sandwich (i.e., number or name of the sandwich, the ingredients, and of course the specific deli)?

RH: Favorites really depend on one’s mood. I’m not going to be so bold as to say what’s the “best,” and neither could I pin down a favorite. Sandwiches are a mystical thing which don’t deal in absolutes. You’ll be unhappy with a reuben if what you wanted was a club.

Anyhow, the falafel & hummus at Jerusalem Garden is a good standard, but that’s more of a wrap. Another band favorite is the patty melt at the Fleetwood Diner. Zingerman’s Deli is actually its own country, a sovereign sandwich nation.

Griffin has a sandwich named after him at Beanster’s in the Michigan League. I can’t remember all of the ingredients but it’s grilled with turkey, tomatoes, gouda, I think, and honey mustard. Griffin has the highest sandwich standards of any of us. The Northside Grill has good breakfast sandwiches, and Casey’s Tavern might have the best burgers.

If you or your readers regularly go to any of these establishments I’d be interested to hear your sandwich reviews. I once engaged in an hour long debate with another trumpet player comparing the sandwiches of two west Michigan breweries – Bell’s and Founders. It came down to the bread and the pickle. If it’s on really good bread and there’s a good zesty pickle on the side, you’re in business. You can put almost anything in there and it will be delicious. All the heats were even, but eventually we determined that Founders had the better sandwiches on the strength of the bread and the pickle.

HT: So it’s been a little while since we’ve seen any new recordings from the ‘podz, is it safe to assume there is something in the works?

RH: It’s never safe to assume anything, but the Macpodz have all kinds of stuff in the works. Last weekend we just tracked a single, “the Truth,” at the brand-spanking-new Elevation Studio in Cleveland. Our friend Jacob Fader, the guitar player for Mifune, engineered the session. They will hopefully use the track to help advertise their studio. I think they were also showing off their sweet gear, because we are trying to figure out where we’re going to record the next album.

HT: Presumably, you’re in the planning stages for the festival season and trying to nail down slots; what are some of the things you hope to accomplish this summer?

RH: Total freedom for everyone, philosophical illumination, the LOUDNESS. The Sound.

HT: Are there any festies in particular that you are really hoping to crack?

RH: I’d love to play the Detroit International Jazz Festival, but those folks can tell we’re actually a rock & roll band, as opposed to the rock & roll people, who think we’re a jazz band. So, I’m not holding my breath. I’ve been going to that festival since I was a baby, though, and it would be a significant personal landmark to play there.

HT: I notice your tour calendar tends to have a lot of shows concentrated in Michigan with short bursts of shows outside the Midwest. Do you guys have day jobs or go to school or is everybody focusing on the band full time at this point?

RH: There are various obligations that prevent us from dropping out of square society and going on tour permanently. I don’t really wish to discuss our personal lives with strangers though. I’ll say that the Macpodz are one full-time project amongst many.

HT: Surely one of the more exciting moments last summer came at Summer Camp where the Macpodz got the monumental upgrade to a big stage this year AND had some cross fertilization with moe.? How does that rank in terms of the biggest moments in the band’s history?

RH: The very first gig we played (February 2006) was, in my mind, the biggest moment in the band’s history. Everything since then has just been trying to capture that pure thrill.

By saying that, I don’t mean to gloss over the fun & intensity of Summer Camp or any other gig. Our intermingling with moe. started at the first Summer Camp we played, in ’07 at the campground stage. Nick was up front singing, and when he returned to his congas, a guy was sitting there playing.

Because of the sorts of shows we were doing at that time, we were used to defending the stage against vagrants and drunkards, so Nick was getting ready to throw down. Our manager Matthew stepped in just in time, indicating that the stranger was a friend of his, Vinnie Amico, who was listening to the set and in his excitement just came on and started jamming. None of us recognized him, I hadn’t seen moe. in seven years prior to that.

Later that weekend, moe. had me up for Yodelittle. They gave me the baptism of fire. I didn’t do anything very special, but I walked out alive. I learned more about music in that 17 minutes than in the whole rest of my life. It was also the last time I can remember being afraid of anything.

Since then, there have been various sit-ins. Vinnie and Jim Loughlin have made numerous appearances with the Macpodz, and Nick and Jesse have both sat in with moe. In Utica, Al brought us some tomato pies, but he left before our set because for some reason he had to be up at the crack of dawn the next day.

We still hope to get collaborations going with Al, Chuck, and Rob. Evidently, one time Rob showed up at our gig in Portland, ME, with his bass, but we weren’t there. There was no gig. The promoter was out of contact in Argentina or something, so the club owner had gone behind his back and booked some punk bands. We drove for six hours to discover this. We tried to make ourselves feel better by eating lobster, but the damage was done. Somehow we found out that Rob came by, and that was salt in the wound. If there ever is a bass duel between Derhak & Brennan, though, I hope there’s a fallout shelter nearby. That would be complete madness.

HT: And the obvious follow up, what else ranks high on that list of great moments in the bands history?

RH: There is a long-running festival in the northern Lower Peninsula called BlissFest, and last summer during our Saturday night set there were multiple instances of crowd surfing. I felt immensely pleased about that; it was very rock & roll. It’s mainly a folk festival, so in addition to being the first crowd surfers at a Macpodz concert, it may also have been the first crowd surfing in the 26 year history of the festival. I’ll have to check on that theory, though. Some of the klezmer scene gets pretty wild.

One other time a while back, Fareed Haque was playing a jazz show in Ann Arbor on a night we were playing at the Blind Pig. We had opened for Garaj Mahal in Burlington earlier that year. So somebody went to Haque’s show, and invited him to come sit in with us when he was done with his gig. He came by and played our roommate’s red Stratocaster through a tiny little Crate amp, and it sounded amazing. The way he plays is mind-boggling. He sat in on “Freedom Jazz Dance” by Eddie Harris, and another tune which I don’t recall. That was a good moment.

HT: And finally this is second most important question: How long should the Wolverines give Rich Rodriguez to turn the football program around before sending him packing?

RH: I’m so disgusted with the matter that I refuse to waste much time thinking about it. If he can figure out how to beat Ohio State regularly, they’ll keep him around for a decade, despite consistent losses to everyone else.

My parents are Buckeyes and my sister is a Spartan, so of course their consensus is that Rodriguez can have as long as he needs. Really, once he can convince the defense and the offense to show up on the same day, they’ll do fine. In the meantime, I’m thankful that the Macpodz were driving somewhere almost every Saturday afternoon this fall, sparing us the torment of watching the games.
- GLIDE MAGAZINE Jan 2010 (Hidden Track)

"Jambase Review 5.12.09 New York City"

By: Ryan Dembinsky

Macpodz :: 05.12.09 :: Sullivan Hall :: New York, NY

In a sense, this review is pointless. The Macpodz, for the time being at least, will likely not see a bad show review. The guitar-less Ann Arbor five-piece lacks any semblance of a weak link and bleeds with talent, and not just raw talent despite only being together just over three years, but tight, organized talent. Combine this gift for the game with their hard work and this rising jam band has achieved an almost Benevento-like critical invincibility.

Given their ability to turn off-the-wall time signatures, byzantine salsa/bebop/funk/electronica/fusion compositions and ceaseless call-and-response audience requests into a Prince-like dance party, no right-minded on-looker would see fit to question. Fortunately, with the exception of percussionist/lead singer/flautist Nick Ayers, whose shirt came off by the second song and provided the crowd with a mean case of snow blindness, this "emperor" is fully clad.

Oddly, despite being one of the more forward thinking small cities in the Midwest, with a fanatical music base, long-standing jazz tradition, unmatched cultural diversity and great music venues, Ann Arbor bands have never really made much of a dent in the jam scene, perhaps until now. The last band to really gain any acclaim outside the A-squared home turf would probably be Smokestack, which is no mere coincidence considering Macpodz bassist extraordinaire Brennan Andes was in that band.

Andes attempted to win over the New York City crowd at Sullivan Hall on Tuesday night by sporting a Yankees hat despite his Tigers affiliation. Turns out the Tigers fans were in full affect, generating a bigger response than the native Bombers fanbase. Looking around, the Ann Arbor scene was well-represented with a number of folks apparently on the road with The Macpodz.

The Macpodz
With little more than an hour to work with at their Sullivan Hall set sandwiched in between SuperFrog and Family Groove Company, The Macpodz stepped onstage, pulled the cord on The Snapper and proceeded to mow the lawn. Musically, The Macpodz are not really a band for categorization, but to help paint the picture think perhaps of a mishmash of artists like Garaj Mahal and Greyboy overlaid with more classic jazz sensibilities like Miles, Brubeck and Monk that incorporates the higher energy portion of the Osibisa catalog.

A new number called "The Truth" proved to be a high point for the evening, where keys man Jesse Clayton provided a barrelhouse piano background that filled the room with what felt more like a tri-piano orchestra, laying the foundation for sharp dressed trumpeter Ross Huff to let loose into blazing falsettos and rug-cutting melodies. The Macpodz' rhythmic subterfuge, consisting of Griffin Bastian on drums, Nick Ayers on percussion (as well as flute and vocals as noted before) and Andes, by no means just hold down the fort. Any one of them is capable of taking the lead and running the floor at any point in time. The band climaxes when Clayton hits the Hammond B3 duck-squawk funk tone and the crowd reacts with uncontrollable dance moves. You'll hear this theme repeated ad nauseum with The Macpodz, but these boys know how to get a crowd moving.

With a big summer ahead that includes stops at more than a handful of major festivals, including Mountain Jam, 10,000 Lakes, Rothbury and an exciting upgrade to the big stage at Summer Camp, The Macpodz look poised to take their carnival up to the next level. Armed with industrious management, an eager fanbase and a troupe of world class musicians hell bent to make some noise, don't expect this momentum to slow. Perhaps the only thing left that could speed up The Macpodz' ascent to preeminence is the obvious affiliation - an iPod commercial.

The Macpodz tour dates available here.

JamBase | NYC
Go See Live Music!

[Published on: 5/15/09] - JAMBASE

"Quintet Performs Cool Fusion"

The stunningly impressive debut from this Ann Arbor quintet should have major appeal for jazz lovers and those who just love to dance. Founding member Brennan Andes, who plays bass the Macpodz, has been an integral part of the A2 music scene for the past decade. For a time, he recorded and toured with jam band Smokestack. Andes, keyboardist Jesse Clayton and percussionist Nick Ayers backed up poet-musician John Sinclair early last year. Then they added drummer Griffin Bastian and trumpeter Ross Huff to complete the Macpodz lineup that's been knocking audiences out with its propulsive, soulful, self-described "disco bebop" sounds. On "Architeuthis" the quintet handles tricky 5/4 and 7/4 time signatures with absolute confidence and ease and simply roars through more straight-ahead tracks "Oh Shizzney" and "Ascention". With the style of Frank Zappa and fusion-period Miles Davis, the bands leaves you breathless on "Rock Em Sock Em Robots" and "Followaduby," Both of which feature super-tight ensemble playing. One listen to "Genius Food for Super Heroes" and you'll instantly understand why the Macpodz already are drawing big enthusiastic crowds to their shows even though they've been together barely a year.
- Detroit Free Press, Martin Bandyke

"Macpodz - "Genius Food for Super Heroes""

Album Review
Overall Rating: 8.4
Lyrics: 7.6
Melodies: 8.1
Arrangements: 9.4
Thematicity: 8.1
Originality: 8.5
Production: 8.8

Chances are that if you reside anywhere near Ann Arbor you've hear of Macpodz (the band contains a Descent of the Holy Ghost Church alumnus in trumpet player Ross Huff and frequently appears on the same bill as the much-lauded Ann Arbor Afro-beat act Nomo), but may not quite know what to make of them. For one thing, the band doesn't really sound anything like Nomo or the Descent (though they're far closer to the former than to the latter), but rather an amalgam of Tortoise or Don Caballero with acid jazz; for another, their performances have often been wildly experimental, featuring hour-long set-lists comprising at most three songs, six-minute introductory passages consisting of a single sustained note, and so on. For this reason, I really didn't know what to expect when the band finally dropped a recording this December. It's difficult to deny that Macpodz are phenomenal musicians, but their work isn't always particularly accessible, and I had worried that the band might go out of its way to make their debut particularly vexing. Genius Food for Super Heroes, however, dispels and trepidations I might have had: the band has taken great pains to make their experimentation approachable, and the structures of both the individual tracks and the album as a whole seem designed to welcome rather than confuse. Not only are there are genuine pop songs here, but there's also a wealth of material whose experimental nature is no impediment to one's appreciation of it.

There are three reasons that Genius Food for Super Heroes is likely to appeal even to those who aren't normally into avant-garde jazz. The first is that the album is structured so as to draw the listener into its experimentation by degrees. The album begins with its poppiest selection, "You Got Me," which features a memorable dance groove and a strong vocal melody (it's also one of only four songs on the album that contain vocals of any sort), moves into the Millions Now Living Will Never Die-inspired "Oh Shizzney, and establishes a rapport with the listener before unleashing the likes of "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots" or or "The Puzzle." The second reason for the album's appeal is that that is that despite its jazz and Afro-beat influences and penchant for experimentation, the band makes sure to emphasize its ties to rock music, which are most evident in Griffin Bastian's drum lines, which recall Don Caballero's both in their driving feel and in the complexity of the snare and ride-cymbal work. It's not only in the rhythm section where the band's rock sensibilities rear their heads either: there's also "Ultra Pneumono Silicone," one on the most uncharacteristic tracks of the record, which takes most of its cues (in terms of both songwriting and production) from Radiohead's OK Computer and yet meshes with the rest of the album's compositions. Of course the reason Macpodz get away with such departures as this and "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots" (for my money, the album's best individual number) is that they carefully set themselves up for it early on in the record by starting with catchy, straightforward pop and progressively diverging further and further from it as the album progresses. By the time a piece like "Genius Food for Super Heroes II," with its introspective feel, undulating bass interludes, myriad time-signature changes, and trumpet hooks that sound like something out of The Buena Vista Social Club, rolls around, it seems par for the course. The amazing thing is that none of these stylistic excursions sound forced: the finesse with which the band capers through its protean repertoire plays a large part in unifying Genius Food—and believe me, "caper" is the right word: the playful character of the band's performance, even when delivering a serious political message, is downright inspiring.

The third reason why Genius Food for Super Heroes is likely to turn heads is that it's just so damn well-arranged, and furthermore well-produced (which is a pleasant surprise, given that the band engineered and mixed it themselves). From the trumpet licks on "Followaduby" to the gliding bass and trap-set rhythms of "Oh Shizzney," Macpodz's execution is flawless; Jesse Clayton's keyboard work employs a diverse range of tones and textures without ever missing the mark; and the auxiliary percussion lines, when they arise, are well-integrated into the mix. The lyrics, while not anything terribly riveting, aren't anything to scoff at either (it's actually refreshing to hear a band referring to circulated material espousing their own opinions as propaganda), and there's really nothing glaringly out of place on this record. It does an admirable job of guiding the listener through the rabbit holes that make up its bewildering sonic landscape. Lush, daring, and despite it all incredibly solid, it's a wonderful record and a more accessible one than I ever could have imagined.

- celestial biscuit

"The Macpodz "Jazz for Dancing""

We invented this style called disco-bebop," one of the Macpodz tells the crowd during a Blind Pig show not long ago. There's a lot more to it than that, but if you have to sum up the Macpodz, you could do worse than that description. The name points to the group's unique accomplishment: they've gotten people dancing to jazz again, and that hasn't happened for quite a while.

The Blind Pig crowd dances, bobs, and claps, led into the music by long introductions that add layers of rhythm as a piece develops. The beat can go from disco to rock to funk to the place where soul and rock rhythms met in the early 1970s in the music of Sly and the Family Stone, and some of the music veers into irregular meters. The crowd isn't fazed. "If

you can get the time signature of that, you win a prize," says one band member, keeping the crowd physically engaged with funk bandleader calls like "I want everybody in the place to get real low."

Over the rhythms go jazz lines from trumpet, keyboards, and occasionally flute. The harmonies are dense, the rhythms angular, the tone sharp and edgy. The jazz element is serious: this isn't jazz improvisation slipped in around the edges of dance music, but fast, furious stuff. This band challenges its audiences while making them dance, and that hasn't happened for a while, either.

To pull that off, the group inserts doses of retro sounds. A parade of 1970s effects goes by in the music, awakening immediate recognition in anyone who was around to hear them

the first time. Jesse Clayton's keyboard array is loaded with vintage instruments of the era, and there's a lot of Miles Davis's jazz-rock fusion in the music. In fact, with those big dance beats, the Macpodz seem to be trying to pick up where Davis left off when death cut short his attempt to reconnect jazz with popular dance music.

But this is not a retro act or a group of fusion revivalists. I went to hear the Macpodz again at the Neutral Zone, where the young people dancing and crowding the stage were more than a decade away from being born when some of these sounds came around for the first time. The high energy level, the driving quality of the music is of today, not of the cosmic-quest 1970s, and the strong following the Macpodz have among local kids makes a good reason to check them out all by itself.

Surprises keep on coming in a Macpodz show, and no two pieces are alike. Trumpeter Ross Walker blows a blast on a giant seashell, and the celebratory mood of the crowd gets deeper as the evening turns into morning. The music of the Macpodz has the feeling of something limitless, as jazz ought to when it's good. And there are very few places other than Ann Arbor, with its strong tradition of jazz playing among young people, where the band could have arisen. Something uncommon and valuable is happening here.

The Macpodz are at TC's Speakeasy on Saturday, February 3; at the Blind Pig on Friday, February 9; and at a benefit for the Behnke family at the Pittsfield Grange on Friday, February 16.

—James M. Manheim
- Arbor Web

"Local music Q & A"

The Mac Podz are one of the brightest new lights in a thriving local music scene. The Podz have made a name for themselves through electrifying shows at the Blind Pig and various other venues throughout campus. The group, comprised of Brennan Duncan (bass/vox) Jesse Clayton (aka Donny Boogaloo, keys) Griffith Ayres (percussion) Nicholas Ayres (percussion/vox) and Ross Walker Huff (trumpet) plays their own brand of space-funk-disco-be-bop begging to be the soundtrack to your next night of drunken dancing. I sat down with Ross to talk about, among other things, Shamu, Optimus Prime and their music.

Lloyd H. Cargo: What do you guys sound like?

Ross Walker Huff: Disco be-bop, with a strong soul and R&B influence. We're also definitely influenced by straight-up rock'n'roll bands that put on real rock'n'roll shows ? like the J. Geils band.

LC: How are you guys getting your music out there?

RWH: Over the summer we played two or three concerts. They were called Freedom Fests. Basically just putting on shows that are organized for the public for free, just partying, drinking Pabst ? They were all afternoon and evening things outdoors. Playing some late night house parties and barbecues help make people aware of what we are or that we're a band at all.

LC: And how important is it for you to connect with the students at the University?

RWH: I think students are always looking for what we're packing, which is a great time, great dance music and a party with positive vibes.

LC: How important is MySpace in getting the word out there to those kids?

RWH: It's hard to tell how important it is. Perhaps it's priceless. I mean it's a free service. We don't have a proper webpage. But I've heard from artists that have both a MySpace and a webpage that they'd get five or 10 times as many hits on MySpace than on their URL. That's kind of a testament to how much of a popularity contest it is - your music has got to hold its own, but it's like, how many MySpace friends do you have?

LC: What have been some of your most memorable shows to date?

RWH: We did a show on Hash Bash that lasted 'til 6 a.m. That was quite memorable. We also enjoyed our WCBN set last July; that got a really positive response. We've had some success at the Blind Pig. We opened for Smokestack at one of their last local shows, maybe in May or June. That show had a really excellent energy.

LC: What sets apart a Mac Podz show from your run-of-the-mill Blind Pig concert?

RWH: We try to do whatever it takes for the listener to get there. Wherever "there" is. I mean it's a different "there" for me or for the other guys in the band. But we all know when we're there. And that's why you go to a show. If you need to stand on your head and breathe nitrous or if you just need to do jumping jacks or yoga or spin in circles ? Whatever it takes for you to get to that space where you look around and say "Hey, if this isn't nice, I don't know what is." If for a couple moments we can set aside all the other crap and remember that being alive is pretty righteous. We can deal with all that other shit tomorrow morning. But right now I'm gonna get there.

LC: Speaking of, if you had a dream gig, space-time constraints notwithstanding ?

RWH: It'd be great to be on a bill with The Arkistra and Sun Ra. Somewhere on one of Saturn's rings. I heard there's a couple of cool joints out on the seventh ring. It'd be some Douglas Adams-type shit. Playing a gig at the restaurant at the end of the universe. There's always the interest in the kind of crazy energetic site on Earth, like when (the Grateful Dead) played at the Pyramids. That would be something. It's like a three ring circus on Neptune. It's pretty rowdy, man.

You can check out the Mac Podz at as well as live at The Blind Pig on Sept. 29. Ross will also perform in a Lego Spaceship Cabaret Production with Monsieur Galooshes and the Plasticine Bandits featuring members of the Mac Podz, Chris Bathgate and Yosef Dosik at Canterbury House, 713 E. Huron St., tonight at 8 p.m.

- Michigan Daily

"Macpodz mixes it right in 'Orcastrate'"

Macpodz mixes it right in 'Orcastrate'
Sunday, March 09, 2008

"Orcastrate,'' the second album by Ann Arbor band The Macpodz, is flat out groove-tastic.

The just-released disc sees the electrified jazz quintet continue to explore its self-defined "disco-bebop'' style, a jazz-fusion that seems as intent on making people dance as it does on making great music.
There's an easy-to-like warmth to this CD that should make it appealing even to people who may say they don't like jazz.

Throughout, Macpodz drummer Griffin Bastian and percussionist Nick Ayers drive the rhythm behind bassist Brennan Andes, keyboardist Jesse Clayton and trumpeter Ross Huff. Clearly, these guys were meant to play together.

This music is never boring. It jumps nimbly from tempo to tempo, from funk to reggae to straight-ahead jazz, then somewhere else and back again without missing a beat.

Yes, Miles Davis' influence is evident; however, I found myself thinking more than once about a host of other bands I've enjoyed over the years - Earth Wind and Fire, Was (Not Was), The Crusaders and even Prince among them. Not that The Macpodz are living in the past - more they acknowledging it, building on it, and in the process making something that is fresh and irresistible.

I loved the worldbeat sounds of "The Butcher,'' the funk of "Give Me the Heat'' and the mix of keyboard and horn in "Egg Sandwich,'' which starts out quietly before morphing into a rump-shaking omelet of styles. I keep coming back to "Token House,'' with its positive-themed vocals and a beat that just begs for a dance floor; and the CD's last official track, the bluesy "Sammy Pants El Figaro.'' If you're patient and let the CD run you'll get a lively bonus track - an extra treat from a CD already overflowing with them.

Fans can pick up a copy at Encore, PJ's Record Store or Wazoo.

Roger LeLievre, The Ann Arbor News

- Ann Arbor News, March 9, 2008


"Live At The Ark 2009" Released 7/1/09
"Orcastrate" May 2008
Played in over 100 markets and was on the Jamband radio charts for 4 months. Orcatrate peaked at #8.
"Genuis Food For Super Heros" JAN 2007
"LIVE AT THE ARK 1/23/09" May 2009

2010 Announced Festivals:
Summer Camp Music Festival
Bear Creek Music Festival
Some Kind of Jam 5
Jamboree Roots Festival
Muncie Spring Fest
Peace Fest (ohio)
Harvest Gathering
Painsville Party in the Park
Nelson Ledges
Detroit Winter Blast

2009 Festivals:
detroit winter blast
10,000 lakes festival
mountain jam v
summer camp music festival
grand marias music festival
dunegrass festival
farm block fest
ann arbor summer festival
pabst blue ribbon fest ypsituckey jamboree
comerica cityfest
adjust your eyes
my coke fest
green street fair
ann arbor summer festival

2008 Festivals:
summer camp music festival
wakarusa music festival
dunegrass festival
hoxeyville music festival
earthwork harvest gathering
shamy bash
detroit international river days
mayflower fest 11
4th of July Rythmn Fest
detroit winter blast
melon kamp
knollfest 08
sublime weekend III
perry stock
Ann Arbor Summer Festival
stanley's summer street festival
painsville party in the park
Ann Arbor Art Fair

Played in over 100 Cites & College towns in America. It is also in the radio charts for 2007 & 2008 on



"One of the nation’s great eccentric cities can fill its fanatical void with a young band called The Macpodz. A long time coming for sure, Ann Arbor finally has its first great jamband; a guitar-less five-piece comprised of brilliant musicians who via bass, trumpet, percussion/flute, keys, and drums, muster up some of the most energetic music on the scene today."
Ryan Dembinsky Glide Magazine Jam 2010

“The Macpodz are Miles Davis meets Jon Travolta” Detroit News

"Funky sound, bouncy energy and jazz influences that range from Medeski
Martin & Wood to Charlie Hunter and Dr. John"
October 2009 RELIX

"Live At The Ark is an infectious snapshot of one of the most talented.
energetic groups to emerge in recent years"
October/November 2009 Issue 62 Hittin' The Note

Ann Arbor's jazz rock outfit, The Macpodz, throw some of the coolest parties around. With a little bit of everything in its musical grab bag, The Macpodz easily please music lovers, from fans of far out jazz to those rootsy jam band-style grooves. The inventor and namesake of its own brand of funky dance music, coined 'disco-bebop,' The Macpodz pay homage to kinky musical concoctions like the groovy, unstructured big band instrumental works of the late, great Frank Zappa with psychadelic tinges of sunglasses-and-afro era Miles Davis. With two solid albums under its belt and a slew of foot-shuffling fans across the region, The Macpodz impress as only an open-minded band can, taking the core of genuine American music and tossing in tasteful touches of world music grooves and lots and lots of swinging horn licks that rouse and comfort all at once." -RAB, Toledo City Paper