The Everyone Orchestra
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The Everyone Orchestra

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The best kept secret in music



“Everyone just wants to be part of the band.”
-- Ken Kesey, Author/Merry Prankster

"It was incredible!!!! Thank needs to be a regular Saturday night thing at Smilefest."
Bob Robertson, Event Director, Smilefest

"The Everyone Orchestra performance was one of the highlights of the Harmony Festival. The interaction between the audience and musicians resulted in an amazing musical program that took the concept of the All-Star jam to another level!

Matt Butler is a pleasure to work with and I highly recommend The EO experience!"
Sean Ahearn, Director of Programming, Harmony Festival

"Great, good God almighty - that was fun!"
-- Billy Nershi, String Cheese Incident

“That was so amazing, I don’t even have any words to describe how amazing it was.”
– Ariel Hyatt, Ariel Publicity

“I was blown away by the talent, humor, love, and brilliantly orchestrated improvisation coming together in what truly can be described as magic.”
-- Julia Butterfly Hill, Activist/Author

“EO is a much more direct synthesis of a band and audience relationship: The audience is not just there to see you, but to PLAY with you.”
-- Jamie Janover, EO performer

“We continue to receive accolades about the evening. Many people have said it was the best Rex event yet!”
-- Sandy Sohcot, Executive Director, Rex Foundation

“Everyone Orchestra gets the crowd involved in the music.”
-- Boulder Dirt

“…the audience is part of the performance, which I think is totally cool. I've performed with the Everyone Orchestra a few times now. It's a real pleasure for me to participate."
-- Steve Kimock

“The mystery of the unknown keeps the musicians present and on their toes, making for the one-of-a-kind magical musical moments Everyone Orchestra has become known for.”

“[The Everyone Orchestra] left me feeling both spiritually cleansed and musically fulfilled. These shows were the complete package, and I hope the beauty of these unique events will have the opportunity to grow and spread across the nation”
-- Glide Magazine
- Raves about The Everyone Orchestra

"Everyone Orchestra Workshops at the Crystal Ballroom"

Everyone Orchestra & Butler, Fishman, Travis, Janover Drum Workshop
Crystal Ballroom, Portland OR
Jason Gershuny
Thursday, April 28, 2005

What an incredible weekend of celebration, improvisation, and jubilation as the Everyone Orchestra took over Portland Oregon’s Crystal Ballroom for two magical nights of musical mayhem. Led by members of Phish, the String Cheese Incident, Garaj Mahal, and a whole lot more, these two nights brought some musical mastery to a town that always loves the experimentation, and the beauty of it all was it was all for a terrific cause. The Pangaea Project was the focus that drew all these incredible musicians to the ballroom. I truly hope that these shows help the Project to obtain their noble goals of helping to send some less fortunate inner city youth abroad to immerse themselves in other cultures to broaden their world view, and then take these all important life lessons back to their own communities.

I found the first night to be more enjoyable than the second, simply because of the physical comfort level in the room. There was a lot more room to dance and move around on Thursday, and this easy flow of the room, made the events of the night all the more enjoyable.

It seemed as each set, during both nights, would start off slowly, and then build up speed, until the final jam of the set was an all out musical frenzy. The most enjoyable part of each night, was the jam that closed each set. Since there were so many talented musicians on stage at once, who knew how to keep space with one another, the jams became so layered and thick that it almost felt like a locomotive that had so much musical momentum that there was no stopping it once it got going. On the other hand the locomotive metaphor holds true in the fact that turning the direction of a jam is very difficult, and sometimes it takes a while to slow the music down to change course.

Another unique aspect to E.O. shows is the conducting led by the musicians themselves. Tye North and Jamie Janover handled most of the conducting duties, and seemed to gain confidence over the two nights. Fishman also led a jam, and was quite entertaining acting as the conductor. It almost seems imperative to have one individual drive the jams, because there is so much chaos going on at once that there needs to be some sense of musical order.

Bob Dylan’s songwriting skills made a double appearance on Thursday night with a first set cover of Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues, and second set closer of the majestic Tangled up in Blue. Billy Nershi sang Tom Thumbs, and led the crowd through the lyrical labyrinth witnessed in Dylan’s genius. There was so much incredible music streaming from the stage simultaneously that picking apart and prodding the specifics would be an arduous task. Everyone Orchestra shows need to be both seen and heard, since the complexity of the musical interplay, the intention and goals of the community, and the visual stimulation on the stage can at once smother and titillate the senses.

The major highlight of the night for me was the outstanding cover of Tangled Up In Blue, which was performed brilliantly. This may be my favorite song all time, and they nailed it to close the second set.

Friday was a great show, but the Drum seminar earlier in the day wound up being an epic experience that I will never forget. At 4 pm there were simultaneous Drum and Guitar workshops at the ballroom. Unfortunately I couldn’t be at two places at once; I’ve tried, but that darn law of physics keeps me from completing my goals, so I chose the drum workshop. I would have loved to see Billy, Libby, and Scott Law teach us a thing or two about songwriting, since they each show such skill in their craft, but the lure of actually playing music with some of my musical inspirations was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.

Led by the Everyone Orchestra founder Matt Butler, we were welcomed into the Ballroom with a drum circle in the middle of the dance floor, with 4 separate kits set up, one for Butler, Jon Fishman, Michael Travis, and Jamie Janover. There was space between them all for us to squeeze in and play along. We were all offered the opportunity to bring a Drum along to play, and this amateur drummer (and when I say amateur I really mean amateur) was not going to miss this opportunity to play with some of my biggest musical influences. Slowly the crowd filled in, maybe 50 of us in all, and we started taking our positions around the circle. I was nestled comfortably between Jon Fishman and Matt Butler’s kits, and what a view that was. I was even given the honor of reeling Fishman into the venue via a cell phone, as he got a little lost on his way in, and I am a local with an understanding of the lay of the land.

There were some open drum jams to start things off that was such a blast. I’ve taken part in drum circles before, but this was different. I’m so used to being on the other side of the stage, that - Glide Magazine

"The Maestro: Matt Butler"

April 4, 2006
By Jared Newman

AT 6:30 ON A MONDAY MORNING, MATT BUTLER has been awake for about an hour and a half. He's got two young kids and two cats, and when they start running around the house around 7:30 a.m., free time is hard to find, so Butler often wakes up at 5 a.m. and either hikes in the woods outside his home in Eugene, Oregon or spends time in his recording studio. "Matt loves coffee!" says Julie van Amerongen, Butler's wife and publicist, who set up the interview.

Butler is a producer and a songwriter, but his main focus these days is The Everyone Orchestra, a band that has no permanent members — not even Butler. The lineup is always changing; there were over thirty performers at the band's two shows at Jam Cruise in January, and only four of them played both occasions.

Butler is the founder and organizer of The Everyone Orchestra, which he thinks of as a concept more than a band. Its maxim, as it appears on its website, is "Music: Activism: Improvisation." It's Butler's job to make sure all of those things happen at each show.

Initially, there's the task of getting artists together, which Butler achieves by calling or emailing musicians and their agents. The musician usually responds with ideas to bring to the jam — Jon Fishman, for example, brings some of Phish's old exercises — and the agent dictates whether or not the musician is available. If all goes well, the musician might even bring along some fellow players.

"It's a little bit random," Butler says. "A lot of it comes from how I just happen to know a whole slew of musicians these days, and agents, actually. I kind of dance that role of being an agent and being a musician at the same time."

Butler also has to make sure that the stage isn't filled with Everyone Orchestra virgins, and he also has to avoid unbalanced lineups (like six guitarists and a violinist). "Sometimes it comes together really easy, sometimes it's kind of a bear to get a rounded lineup that I feel confident in," explains Butler.

To ensure that he can communicate effectively with the players, Butler builds each session around a few core bands: members of his old group, Jambay, Scott Law's band, and most or all of Animal Liberation Orchestra.

Once a lineup is solidified, Butler uses some basic guidelines to get everyone on the same page. "I hate to call them rules. They're more like agreements so we can manipulate the controlled chaos." Basically, he explains the kinds of conducting signals he will use and how the musicians should respond to them.

Butler also tries to instigate dialogue between the musicians. Some of the musicians at last weekend's snoe.down festival - among them Fishman, Steve Kimock, and Jamie Masefield - had a long talk about politics. Butler has found that the jams are better when people get to know each other beforehand.

"In an Everyone Orchestra event, I'm producing the flow so everybody's comfortable on stage. Everybody knows everybody or has been introduced, and everybody has an idea what the game is," says Butler. "From a production standpoint, I'm just trying to facilitate and create songs in the moment."

Butler used to play drums or sit out for Everyone Orchestra shows, leaving the conducting duties to others, but for a little over a year, he's been doing most of the conducting himself. "I realized that it was a very natural extension of what I was doing in just facilitating and getting everybody on the same page and getting everyone up on stage. I'm really digging it, actually."

He uses giant cue cards as well as traditional hand and wand gestures to direct the band as well as the audience. Some of it is typical stuff — give someone a solo, have the horns punch in, play louder, softer, faster, or slower — but it gets wackier when the audience gets involved.

Butler can get the crowd chanting if he hums for long enough, and a cue card with the word "AAH!" incites the crowd to scream. Butler might take that card and alternate between showing it to the musicians and to the audience so they scream at each other. At Jam Cruise in January, Karl Denson traded licks with the audience, juxtaposing his precise blasts against a wall of noise from the crowd's disorganized be-bop.

Butler admits that he's not the first one to conduct a band and its audience. "In a lot of respects, tons of bands do this" says Butler. "Michael Franti gets the audience to say words, to clap, and to do all sorts of different things. The conducting is just a little bit more blatant, and I feel like we're just scraping the beginning of the possibilities of where we can take this, as far as really integrating the audience." Butler plans to use projections to conduct larger audiences and to demonstrate very specific actions. Perhaps, for example, he can get the entire crowd to slap their cheeks or click the back of their tongues against the roofs of their mouths, creating a thunderous unison of strange noises.

Butler - Jambase


The Everyone Orchestra encourages taping at all performances. No board feeds.

DVD: The First Annual Pangaea Project Benefit featuring The Everyone Orchestra

A studio album is in the works for 2006 as well.


Feeling a bit camera shy


THE EVERYONE ORCHESTRA is a revolving cast of performers brought together by drummer/conductor Matt Butler for concerts, festival super jams and special benefit events. At the core of each EO experience is the magical co-creation of the jam when the conductor directs musicians and audience alike.

The Everyone Orchestra has performed its shows nationally featuring a who's who of the jamband scene and beyond including members of The Grateful Dead, Phish, Disco Biscuits, The Derek Trucks Band, Fishbone, Poi Dog Pondering, String Cheese Incident, and Adrian Belew, Steve Kimock, G. Love, Taj Mahal, painters, dancers, hula hoopers, firespinners, stiltwalkers, activists, a presidential candidate, storytellers and hundreds of others.

Through the events and work of The Everyone Orchestra, more than $100,000 has been raised for contributions to non-profit and environmental organizations around the nation.