Musikfest Cafe in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has one of the most unique backdrops in the country: Bethlehem Steel. Forming in 1904 (having roots all the way back to 1857), Bethlehem Steel or “The Steel”, as many of the city’s natives call it, was home to some of the hardest working employees for decades. On Thursday evening, a collaboration of top-notch musicians, Everyone Orchestra, came to town conducted by Matt Butler. Opening the night's festivities, Nik Greeley, along with his Philadelphia based members, “The Operators”. The opening slot gave the powerhouse a chance to do a number of energetic covers, including a spot-on rendition of the 1972 classic by The Edgar Winter Group, “Frankenstein."
Nineteen years ago, conductor Matt Butler was traveling in India and on his travels, he ran into many musicians, and through his interactions, he came up with the concept of “Everyone Orchestra”. The list of musicians that have graced the stage with maestro (Butler) over this period, is a mile long.
The members that represented the group last Thursday were:
Steve Kimock: Guitar
Vinnie Amico: Drums
Rob Mercurio: Bass
Mike “Maz” Maher: Trumpet/Vocals
Chris Bullock: Saxophone/Vocals
Alric “AC” Carter: Keyboards
Jon Braun: Percussion/Vocals
(Start Making Sense/RUBY DEAR)
Jenny Founds: Vocals
(Start Making Sense/RUBY DEAR)
If this was your first venture with Everyone Orchestra or have seen the supergroup before there is one thing to expect: The unexpected. With many of the musicians never meeting before, the musical exploration is limitless. Standing front and center, with his white top hat and long jacket, Butler used his whiteboard to guide the musicians on a “jam”. With Everyone Orchestra, all of the musicians are some fashion but one musician will start at a given tune and with the conductor's cue someone will step into solo. The beauty of this type of setting is that each artist on the stage gets a rare chance to see their colleagues perform their craft.
Bethlehem native, Steve Kimock, with his very distinct tone guided the octet in a number of songs, as drummer, Amico, blowing bubbles with his gum, in the foreground, kept the beat going. Alric Carter, would look for cues from Matt, and he would shine on his keyboard like the high noon sun. The Snarky Puppy horns of Bullock and Maher, gave The Everyone Orchestra, the nice jazz/funky undertones for the evening that fit in perfectly. Talking about funk, Galactic, Mercurio, gave a clinic for all the bass players in the Bethlehem audience on Thursday, as his throw in some down-home, New Orleans funkadelic bass notes. Hometown heroes, Start Making Sense, were represented by percussionist, Jon Braun and vocalist, Jenny Founds.
Kimock stepped upstage center as he gave us a brief history lesson (and some things to think about):
“All this crap is going to go away and we’ll still have family and music.” - Steve Kimock
Two of the highlights, during the nearly two-hour performance, was when Founds took to the microphone for an original song, “Built To Last”. Trumpeter brought some goofiness as he looked glared into the crowd with a huge grin as he belted out the lyrics to “I Want To Have Your Baby”.
It’s great that Everyone Orchestra gives musicians the time to come together for an unforgettable musical experience. The community that Matt Butler has built around the scene for nineteen plus years is something special and unique. Bethlehem has the opportunity to experience that is Everyone Orchestra on Thursday.