One could easily throw a "musical chairs" allusion into the formation of this group: from a one man project to a 44 piece orchestra then finally resting as ten person touring band it's impossible to escape the notion that this has shaped what Sounds of RVA calls their "evershifting wall of sound". One could also employ the monstrous power of a rolling train to describe their onstage show which is fitting because that’s where they all met.
It’s true, half of this band of world class musicians belonged to fellow bandmate Lucy LaCoeur who provided live entertainment on rails owned by her father others by way of kismet or deus ex machina followed suite and soon, the man in white, M.H. or Max Holiday. It was Holiday himself who described the group’s formation as “A romantic folly; a honeymoon.” but that plays lightly the work and energy put into the spectacle that is: M.H. & His Orchestra...
“Sound experimentation executed by instrumentalists that actually know what they're doing.”
Examiner said of their 2012 debut release: The Throes, a short and sweet orchestral pop travelogue of songs that allude to the bands formation “The Train” and the humorous, irate musings of M.H. “Cobblestone”. Quickly they began traversing the Mid Atlantic from DC’s 9:30 Club to Brooklyn’s Spike Hill with their enigmatic live act: strings, horns, woodwinds and a tight rhythm section blasting behind M.H.’s distinctive baritone croon and LaCoeur and Lady Viorii’s lush harmonies often morphing into audience interactive gestures and theatric monologues.
“They are one of the few bands in D.C. who go above and beyond their performance duties and truly make their live shows into an experience.”
D.C. Music Download
Now, after 2 years of touring and a few cosmetic adjustments the group is nestled in the Nation’s Capitol: Washington, D.C. culling their hushed sophomore release: AGITPOP which makes musical pun of the Soviet concept, art as propaganda and features a slew of politically, socially and funkily oriented songs that still adhere to the band’s trademark eccentric brand of humor and melody. It may all seem overwhelming, it’s safe to assume the band likes it that way but don’t be afraid to catch a ride on “The Train” in the words of NPR’s Bob Boilen, a night with M.H. & His Orchestra is: “always a fabulous night”.
Wanting to trace the songlines of nomadic culture, Lucy once spent an entire summer living in a pup tent along the rivers of Upstate New York.
Once heralded as "The Nancy Sinatra of Punk" while performing in L.L. & The Elefant Brass by N.Y. Zine "Yunk Police". (The Elefant Brass was later reprised for The Throes’: “The Throes”.
Lucy learned the clarinet at the age of 10 by her aunt Clara Bouchard, who was a founding member of the Maniyunk Wind Ensemble.
LaCœur began performing at a young age on the train that her father portered alongside her nine brothers Lucien, Pierre, Theo, Clement, Enzo, Benoit, Christophe, Gilbert, and Serge LaCoeur.
Lucy is renowned, sub rosa, amongst many socialite communities for her uncanny impersonation skills. (We apologize to her now for leaking this titillating information).
Born: Milinka Viorii, though she adopted the sobriquet “Lady” shortened from the affectionate “M’Lady”, a pet name from her father.
On Record (regarding her custommade violin): “Somewhere in Romania, a craftsman had heard my soul and had illustrated my life in wood and wire.”
Before moving to The United States, Viorii spent a majority of time “flitting between Europe and North Africa”.
Fiercely dedicated to her instrument Viorii has spent “..two decades pouring my soul into my art; often practicing until my fingers bled.”.
Discovered, on her first American tour, she was a distant cousin to Jack Tabby after hearing his performance of a family lullaby with his then group: ‘The Lost Shoe Strings Company’. The event instantly transformed the two from strangers to longtime writing partners; the lullaby was later adopted for The Throes’: “Night, Restless Night”.
Previously only known as “Brass Monkey” Kasey adopted the name ‘Morgan’ in homage to trumpeter Lee Morgan. Deeper than mere reverence, Kasey shares a similar history with Lee Morgan: both men evaded death onstage when estranged lovers attempted public assaults on their lives.
When composing, Kasey receives much of his inspiration for tunes from “the rhythm and pitches of [his] unique snoring” a subject on which the entire band can attest the eccentricity.
In his early teens, Morgan “swung from band to band” until he had a “somewhat permanent gig” with a touring circus pit band. This high flying earned him the nickname, “Brass Monkey”.
Kasey himself is unsure the origins of his brass’o’philia but postulates his introduction was at age 5 when he, “in an attempt to woo a neighborhood girl”, first feverishly blew hot air through the valves. The end result was a primary school suspension.
The other is that due to his obsession with elephant trunks; Morgan spent a duration of his childhood trying to imitate that sound. He found an old cornet in his attic and decided that the trumpet, “amplified his spitting noises better”.
Born in Loyalsock, PA
Tabby began his musical tutelage learning the viola from the legendary Yannick Paz Sokoloff shortly before Sokoloff’s disappearance in the Pyrenees.
Designed the first putt-putt golf course built in the English Channel Islands.
After leaving professional miniature golf, briefly worked as a falconer’s apprentice before taking up music full time.
Can fence in three styles ambidextrously, and to this day:“has a scar from a duel”.
G. Emmet Splanky
G Emmet Splanky emerged like an eager ear of corn from the Oklahoma soil “the same year that Rock’n’Roll died”.
Music from all over the planet-- “the ink not yet dry on the time signatures”— came into the family homestead over the shortwaves, through his Pop's “cast-off rig in the root cellar”.
His first saxophone was an: “old-as-dirt alto, more tarnish than metal”, that jumped a generation from his Grand's' still hands.
For years, Splanky played exclusively at Norm's Blank Wall—“Okrakork's worst swing at a dive bar”—where Norman paid him in cast-off prison milk, plus tips. (Mostly milk. ) This is where he was waylaid and inculcated by Lucy LaCoeur.
Splanky invented the ‘Pumpa’— the only reed instrument carved from a gourd fruit.
Eddie “McFierce” McPherson
Often gets confusing looks trying to explain how he is an Irishman when he: “[does] not look the part. At all.”.
Eddie McPherson, more commonly known as ‘McFierce’, is part of the backbeat-glue holding the band together with his “22-finger bass acrobatics”, marrying together a perfect combination of old world Jazz, Disco, Funk like you have never heard before, and ever-so-tasty sounding R&B/Soul bass grooves. And yes, he does “slappa da bass.”
His formative years spent in unquenchable wanderlust, McFierce honed his craft by “panhandling and busking” in alleys and subway stations all across the British Isles and Western Europe.
During his travels, he joined forces with the self proclaimed “prince of piano” and ace of accordion: Domino Cristofori whilst hoboing on a train - both were attempting to escape a prison after a case of mistaken identity. The chaotic epoch in Eddie’s life was summed up in Yunk Police as involving: “a mysterious man named Alan Parrish (Founder of The C.F.R.C.), a strange place called Champe Ford, a bass, an accordion, a couple spoons, and a monkey named Otto.”
(The case was later dropped due to “lack of evidence” with ‘McPherson’ settling out of court)
The train Eddie and his cohort Domino stowed away in, now successfully free, happened to be the same train on which M.H. and his traveling troupe of balladeers resided; both have been adventuring with the Orchestra ever since.
In his own words, McFierce describes himself as “the lovechild Victor Wooten and Flea never had.”
Domino is in fact a distant relative of Antonín Dvořák. Or so he says.
Domino does not believe in practice, but rather a method he calls "musical meditation”.
Though there is no evidence to back the claim, Domino insists he is:“deaf in one ear”. Can you guess which one?
Domino has studied music around the world, but his greatest influences are poets, not musicians, his favorite being: “Anonymous”.
On Record: "Music is a form of compulsive lying, and the appreciation of such is merely a suspension of disbelief”.
Dean Alexander Davies was born in Henderson, NV to Pat and Tina Davies. Both his parents performed in a group called “The Pat Davies Quartet” at a vestigial ‘Vegas Strip’ Hotel and Casino called The Donovan.
Being born into a “musically obsessed household”, Davies rebelled against a musical pursuit until the doorman of The Donovan, Bill Chapman, turned him on to the great American songwriter, Stephen Foster. He then “fell in love with songwriting and began playing the guitar”.
Davies first began mixing live sound at age 14 when the house engineer at The Donovan, Dick Faherty, “drank too much Rye Whiskey and passed out” during his parents set. He mixed all Pat Davies Quartet shows after that.
At age 19 followed his girlfriend, Chauntice Williams, to NYC where she wanted to “pursue her dream of becoming the worlds greatest burlesque contortionist”. Three weeks after their arrival in the big city, she “left him for an Amtrak driver named Henry Wharfield”.
On the train back from NYC to DC with good friend, Bobby Buccelli, Dean met Alan Parrish. Alan liked Dean’s “moxie and his diverse background”, subsequently hiring him as an engineer at The Champe Ford Recording Co.’s studio. Not long after that Parish discovered M.H. and the rest is history, as they say.