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Funky trio to play Orpheum

Maggi, Pierce and E.J are multi-instrumentalists who have been bringing their three-part harmonies to clubs, bars and cafes across the United States and Europe. Their music is an intoxicating cocktail of folk, rock and jazz that draws liberally from their disparate influences that range from The Carpenters and Joni Mitchell to Led Zeppelin and The Pixies. MP&EJ’s discography consists of three self-titled CDs (their arrangements are more clever than their album titles). Their latest release, For, which is a dedication to Jeff Buckley – an up and coming singer/songwriter of the 1990s who made a substantial impact on them before his untimely death several years ago.

Q: Do you feel that your eclectic sound, which you describe on your Web site as “Eclectric Rolk” limits your marketability?

A: No, not really. We just have to go for the open-minded kind of people.

Q: How do fans react to you and your band mates switching instruments mid-set?

A: It’s a feast for the eyes because we all take turns on everything. Maggi’s on drums and guitar and bass; and I’m mandolin and bass and drums; Pierce is guitar and drums, and he plays a little bass, too, and harmonica. We also have Tuba Dan with us now who plays accordion and the flute, and he can juggle as well … it’s kind of like a carnival atmosphere.

Q: Did MP&EJ have any kind of personal relationship with Jeff Buckley before he died?

A: Yeah, we were getting to know him a little bit. After a show in Philadelphia he came back to our house with his tour manger and jammed. We had a good time, broke some bread and drank some wine, among other things, until the wee hours of the night. Then we saw him the next night, and then we saw him six months later in Memphis about a month before the river took him away. We had some fun nights with him. (Jeff Buckley drowned during a midnight swim in the Mississippi).

Q: Your album is a dedication to Buckley containing songs written prior to and after his death. Do you feel that you have to be familiar with Buckley’s work to relate to For?

A: You don’t have to be a Jeff Buckley fan at all … but if you are, you’ll know the depth (of For).

Q: What prompted MP&EJ to break the eponymous trend and title an album?

A: It’s a special album because it’s a dedication album and the fact that it’s our fourth album we could call it For and have a nice little play on words.

Q: Besides sharing a stage, do Maggi, Pierce and E.J. share a place of residence, also?

A: Yeah, we rent this big farmhouse (in Pottsville, P.A.) – in it, we have a studio in the living room where we recorded our third and fourth CDs. It’s got a nice rolling hillside, and a nice pond and a 25-year-old goose. I think we thank Gus The Goose in (the liner notes). Even when the pond ices over, you have to chisel open a little piece for him so he can stay alive and bring the food down to him. He came with the house.

Q: On your Web site there is information given about MP&EJ’s varied backgrounds such as “exotic dancing on Bourbon Street.” So who was that, Maggi?

A: I’m not gonna answer that one. I’m gonna leave the exotic dancing totally up in the air because you can’t make assumptions. If you’ve ever been to Bourbon Street, you know that all kinds of boys and girls dance and wear all kinds of things, and maybe you’re not even sure if they’re a boy or a girl when you see them on stage.

Q: Come on, who was it? Who is the exotic dancer in the band?

A: I’ll tell you what, you come out, and maybe if there’s a pole on the stage at the Orpheum, we’ll take a spin on it, and you can see who the best one is at the pole dance. Maybe from that you can tell who was the exotic dancer on Bourbon Street.

Q: Is the songwriting process for MP&EJ a collaborative effort?

A: It’s really all of the above: it’s single, in pairs and as a group – that’s the thing that keeps it fresh. I think we all spice each other up if we get a little stale – there’s always the other two people to infuse excitement into it.

Q: Does the exotic dancing also spice things up?

A: Yeah … we light the candles and get the hot wax going.

Q: Is there any romantic action going on between the three of you?

A: Umm … only on full moons of every Tuesday after the second Friday of every month of the six month of every New Year.

  • Maggi, Pierce and E.J. will perform at The Orpheum in Ybor City, 1902 Republica De Cuba, Friday night at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5.