Everyone Orchestra’s conductor and founder Matt Butler has been leading a rotating cast of accomplished musicians through entirely improvised performances, since 2001. Butler’s unique style of conducting is groundbreaking in that he has essentially created an entirely new way to perform and experience music. Butler says, “Playing with different musicians, improvising every night, and getting the crowd involved in ways that they can’t be at a regular show has provided an unparalleled live music experience.”
Everyone Orchestra's performances in Seattle, WA at Nectar Lounge on Friday, September 11th and Portland, OR at Aladdin Theater on Saturday, September 12th feature Andy Thorn (banjo - Leftover Salmon), Lebo (guitars, steels & vocals - ALO) Allie Kral (fiddle and vocals - Yonder Mtn. String Band) Jans Ingber (percussion and vocals - The Motet), Mimi Naja (mandolin and vocals - Fruition), Tyler Thompson (drums - Fruition), Jeff Leonard (bass - Fruition), and Asher Fulero (keyboards, vocals - Halo Refuser).
Butler brings EO’s participants, both on stage and off, on spontaneous compositional journeys with eclectic ensembles at festivals, theaters, and philanthropic events both nationally and internationally. Featuring a large contingent of hundreds of musicians, dancers, singers and community organizations who have embraced the experience of EO in single shots of musical adrenaline to the soul. It’s all in the moment, designed exclusively by everyone participating in each show.
Having marched clearly into uncharted territory, Everyone Orchestra is an avant-garde conceptual and collaborative performance which deeply encourages and requires audience interaction. Both the band and the audience start the show with a clean slate to help co-create a dynamic musical experience, with Butler receiving ideas from the audience to help set the course of action. Tuning in to Butler’s energy and pantomime, The Conductor is utilized as a pivot to the set mood of each passing jam as he communicates musical concepts using hand signs, whiteboard and assorted mime suggestions. The edge of your seat enthusiasm for what is next is the fuel behind the continuous musical experiment of Everyone Orchestra.
“I feel like it’s part of my job, and paramount, to not have too many preconceptions,” he said. “But the only preconceptions I have going in are to create a really dynamic show from beginning to end, have it have a nice arc, and that all the musicians get a chance to shine. I want to keep them challenged and engaged. It’s a playground for musicians that I’m trying to create,” says Matt in an interview with Examiner.
“[In each city] Butler will have another group with which he can create the beautiful chaos this act is known for. Simply put, there is no set list to be confined to, no certain marks to hit over the course of the night. Butler makes his way to the front of the stage, and it’s off to the races, testing the limits of his players while also showing how good music is when everything clicks in the midst of an improvised set.” writes Examiner’s Thomas Gerbasi. “At this point, Butler almost has it down to a science, at least as much as you can on a speeding car that could veer off the road at any moment.”
EO balances the challenges of live group improvisation with triumphant tension and release conduits of music which head deep into the heart filled with the aspiration of creating shared magical moments.
In 2012, Butler gathered musicians from Phish, Moe., Dave Matthews Band, and others and recorded Everyone Orchestra’s first studio album, Brooklyn Sessions , which was still largely composed on the spot over the course of several days. 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. Jambands.com writes of the album in review, “Imagine trying to take a photograph of a flowing stream – a wild-assed, multi-colored, groove-saturated stream – and that’ll give you some idea of what capturing the music of the Everyone Orchestra in a studio setting is like. Just as the water in that stream is constantly moving and shape-shifting, never to be the same again, so is the right now music created by the Everyone Orchestra.”
The ever-evolving collective of Everyone Orchestra participants is an increasingly wide and intercontinental group which has included members of The Grateful Dead, Phish, Furthur, Ratdog, Trey Anastasio Band, Gov’t Mule, String Cheese Incident, moe., members of Allman Brothers Band. including Oteil Burbridge, Yonder Mountain String Band, The New Mastersounds, Big Gigantic, The Punch Brothers, Dumpstaphunk, Galactic,The Motet, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Railroad Earth, Thievery Corporation, Lettuce, Infamous Stringdusters, Dopapod, Leftover Salmon, The Flecktones, ALO, Papdosio, Tuvan throat singers, live painters, dancers, chanters, choirs, hula hoopers, firespinners, jugglers, stiltwalkers, storytellers, a presidential candidate and hundreds of others among a growing legion of other performers.