"With a sound built on cigar-box guitar, slap bass and washboard, no trio is more fun taking familiar roots genres and twisting them around Mae's elbow-gloved, gold capped fingers." — Mary Armstrong, The City Paper
“Hear my train a-comin’…” sings 1940s "victory roll" hairdo-sporting April Mae; the effervescent songstress, who serves as lead vocalist and washboard percussionist for trio April Mae & The June Bugs. Dubbed the "The Breakout Surprise Act" by concert reviewing journalists on more than one occasion the trio has been garnering recent press. (1)
With full page cover stories and companion videos, in both the Courier-Post and the Burlington County Times...bearing the titles "The Roots of Their Success" and "April Mae & The June Bugs celebrate Americana music." An interview with AL.com, and a thirty minute TV Appearance on The Folk Project's "…Horses Sing None of It!" is currently in rotation with Time/Warner Cable. The trio recently performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the largest and longest-running festival of its kind in the country, on the heels of MusikFest in Bethlehem PA.
Their third CD will be released in the spring of 2016. It was recorded at the legendary Sun Records in Memphis, fulfilling one of Mae's dreams. "It was magical to be there.” To pay tribute to the studio, the album is titled "Sun Kissed."
“She’s doing stuff that nobody else is doing. She kind of has this acoustic thing and just a flair for off-the-wall sound that’s really fresh right now,” says Lon Mickelson, a blues promoter who launched Blues Women International. Mae’s song “Some Iz Good” released by the label, enjoyed placement on the Roots Radio / Blues Chart. (2)
The song may bear a solid blues imprint, but April Mae & The June Bugs has been skirting the genre in recent years. Their previous CD “It’s All About the Boogie,” marked an exciting evolution from the band’s 2010 self-titled debut of more traditional blues. It’s the first to feature the mandolin and the 1940s washboard she began playing two years ago, creating her own gold-tipped gloves — “I wanted something campy,” she says — to strike the surface with a greater delicacy than a thimble would allow.
The CD received auspicious reviews in The City Paper, Big City Rhythm & Blues Magazine, Blues Festival Guide Magazine, and Blue Suede News. Rootstime Magazine, of Belgium called it a "sultry melting pot.”
In 2013 the blues community responded with a “Best Blues/Roots Release Nomination” from Blues411 Jimi Awards, and April Mae and Catfish represented the Lehigh Valley Blues Network to compete during the world’s largest gathering of blues artists in Memphis, as International Blues Challenge Quarter-Finalists. Big City Rhythm & Blues Magazine awarded female voice accolades to both April Mae, and Maria Muldaur.
April Mae, was born into a family of musicians. Her father, Phil Iorio, played in a local band, The Three Holidays. Becoming The Renegades When her mother, local beauty pageant queen MaryAlice daSilva joined as lead singer. From an early age she was captivated by the spirit she found in singing. "It lifts the spirits; it's healing," she said.
Founded in 2010, April Mae and the June Bugs the trio entertains crowds at festivals and clubs in North Carolina, Louisiana, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and wherever else they can plunge into the American roots music they love.
Traveling to shows in a vintage school bus they refurbished and renamed, that's been converted to run on vegetable oil. The Boogie Bus sleeps three and has room for their many instruments and the supply of filtered vegetable oil, which they use as an alternate fuel. "Our aim is to be as green as possible," said Mae.
On their travels they’ve performed with many musicians including Pete Seeger, J.M. Van Eaton, Eric Frey of the Red Stick Ramblers, and New Orleans’ Washboard Chaz. Supporting line ups with Wanda Jackson, Imelda May, Theresa Anderson, Cyril Neville, Rick Estrin & The Night Cats, Luke Winslow King, Gina Sicilia, Justin Johnson and Ben Prestage, among others.
After a live radio performance on WWOZ, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station, DJ Hazel, The Delta Rambler observes, "They have a reverence for the old and a fresh new look to the future.... a lot of fun!”
[Content courtesy of Naila Francis; staff writer for the Intelligencer, Matt Wake writer for AL.com, Gail Boatman; correspondent for The Burlington County Times, and April Mae, © 2015.]