Gift of the Marcii (pronounced Mark-Eye) is a collaboration
between brothers Andrew and Aaron Marcus and their mother Peggy. Although
the brothers have been playing music since an early age and Andrew has done previous
recording, they only recently decided to play and record together as a family band.
And what a great idea that was! With accordion, piano, concertina, mountain
dulcimer, vocal effects and various sorts of percussion, they have
managed to create a rich and unusual sound, bringing a unique experience to the
contra dance community in which they play.
Andrew has been playing the accordion since he was 8 years old.
He started with a strong classical background under the instruction
of Paul Monte, winning trophies at Massachusetts accordion competitions
for many years in a row. He won playing songs such as "The William
Tell Overture" and Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto in Em".
Andrew then played in a Klezmer band for several
years before becoming a student officer for the
Cornell University Jazz Ensembles.
Though he had been an avid contra dancer since
he was young, Andrew only started to play and
compose contra dance tunes while in college.
He soon helped form his first band
which took the central NY contra scene by storm! He
brings a diverse musical background to his playing
and composition, and loves to bring unusual
genres into the contra dance repertoire.
He first picked up a doumbek in 2003 and was instantly hooked,
but then found that he never has an opportunity to play it in a band
because he is always needed on accordion. But equipped with a new doumbek
stand built by Peggy's boyfriend Alec, Andrew can now practice his newest
skill: playing doumbek and accordion at the same time!
Andrew now lives near Washington, DC, where he
has a day job writing computer software for a
small software company. But at night and on
weekends he transforms into
his alter ego Accordion Man! (dum
da duuuum!) and plays with his local band Government
Contra Act or one of several other bands, including
Avant Gardeners. He and Aaron have also
occassionally collaborated with Andrew and Noah
VanNorstrand to play as Giant Robot Dance.
To make things easier on himself, his housemates and others,
Andrew's Crazy Schedule is now online!
Piano, Concertina, Clogging, Vocals
Aaron started playing the piano at about age 5, and composing
symphonies by age 12. No wait, that was Mozart. But Aaron is a child
prodigy in his own right. Studying for many years under Angel Ramón
Rivera, as well as Paul Monte and Jacqueline Schwab, he has developed
a remarkable tone and elegance not commonly heard among contra dance
musicians. But he also knows how to groove hard!
Aaron bought his first Hayden-duet concertina in 2004 and in a short time
has developed a great mastery of the instrument. He has also been
dancing as long as he has been playing music. No foot concertos yet, but Aaron
is often sighted clogging/flatfooting, morris dancing, West African
dancing, or doing his own thing; at local contra dances, along
sidewalks, or while leap-frogging over parking meters. He considers
the auditory expression of his clogging to be more important than the
visual component, so we thought it would be great to put in on the CD!
Aaron has studied voice with Patti Thompson as an alto, and
discovered his bass range accidentally when trying to sing overtones
in 2003. And yes, the bass and the alto vocals are all part of
Aaron's 3 1/2-octave range. Aaron finds scat singing more effective
than words for expressing himself and his joy toward the universe.
Aaron finished his studies in conservation
biology, happy plants, and wetlands, and now lives
in Montpelier, VT, working for the state botanist.
His partner Sam Sanders was our wonderful sound
at Vermont Public Radio.
Bodhran, Mountain Dulcimer, Frog
Peggy also started piano as a child, but soon life kicked in. She went
on to do many other great things, such as raise a family and
help hundreds of children learn how to read.
Still living in the family homestead in Newton, MA, Peggy rediscovered
the thrill of playing music as her sons were heading off to college. After
spending so many years launching them off on their musical careers,
she finally had the time for her own musical endeavors. And endeavor
she did! She started bodhran and dulcimer lessons and quickly
became the catalyst and facilitator for this
new family band we wanted to put together.