Band name: Joe Marcinek Band
Genre: Funky Jazz
Hometown: Crown Point, Ind.
The Joe Marcinek Band is an ever-evolving musical entity. Front man Joe Marcinek loves to bring in his uber talented friends to get in on the action, much to the delight of an eager audience starved for an off-the-cuff jam session. On March 6, the Crown Point, Ind.-based funky jazz group will return to Kalamazoo to take the stage at Bell's Brewery. He will be joined by guest musicians Steve Molitz (Particle) and Allie Kral (formerly of Cornmeal). We picked his brain about what to expect.
How much of your show is improvised jamming?
At least half, if not more. We basically have songs that serve as skeletons on which we play a melody and then improvise around. Sometimes the improv is solo based and features an individual player and sometimes the improv is a collection of the whole band creating new music on the spot. With both of the current guests having played with the JMB already, I expect more improv and exploration this time.
Is the tone and direction of each show dictated by the guests you have playing with you?
I would say in large part, yes. Location has something to do with it along with life itself. The first time we played with Steve Molitz was back in June of last year and he was the first really big guest star and really brought the band to a new level. Each guest's personality comes through in the music and improv but is still rooted in my original songs and ideas.
How do you select your guests?
There is no easy answer to this. It has as much to do with who I personally love and admire as a musician as it has to do with schedules. There are so many amazing musicians that I've spoken with that are interested in the project but are so busy that it's hard to find who is available at the time of each run.
Do you feel like improvised jamming is one of the purist forms of music and performance?
There is always a risk when you include improv in your music. A big attraction to our genre of music is in that risk and the possibility that your going to have a profound, one-of-kind experience at each show. That's what keeps us going to see bands like the Dead, Phish, Umphrey's and more — that moment when you hear something new or unexpected. It can be anything like the singer forgetting the words and in that moment you realize they are human and that we are all the same. We share that moment together and you feel a part of something bigger than yourself. As a musician, and in some ways as a person, I'm always seeking those moments when something magical happens. The hard part is keeping yourself open to whatever happens and not letting your expectations spoil what brought you there in the first place.
Tell me about the upcoming show in Kalamazoo and some goals you have on the horizon.
For this run, we have Steve Molitz and Allie Kral as our special guests. Both have toured with the JMB before and bring such passion and joy to the stage. The run will start out as a very intimate show in Kalamazoo with a five-piece, including Janis Wallin and Pete Koopmans from Family Groove Company. From there, we head to Indianapolis where an amazing sax player named Rob Dixon will join us. Finally, we wrap it up in Chicago at the Hard Rock Cafe and a late-night Mike Gordon after party. Allen Aucoin and Scott Metzger will join us along with Fareed Haque and more surprise guests.
After that, I plan to focus on writing and recording some new material for the next JMB CD. I've got a ton of ideas and new friends to help me realize them. Things are growing faster than I ever could have imagined for this band. The future looks extremely bright and exciting!
As a musician that seems well traveled, at least regionally, where are some of the stronger local music scenes these days?
I have to start with Indianapolis. It was the first place to really embrace Fresh Hops and now the JMB. There is another new band down there called Funky Junk that are doing some amazing things. Another place that is showing us an incredible amount of love is Valparaiso, Indiana. As far as venues go, I would recommend checking out the Wire in Berwyn just outside of Chicago and the House Pub in St Charles, Illinois.