Musicians of Moorestown: April Mae & The June Bugs

A chance meeting brought April Mae Iorio and Dave Fecca together, but their shared love of music is what set them down their shared path.

Moorestown musicians April Mae Iorio and Dave “Catfish” Fecca pose on Main Street in front of their tour bus, which runs on waste cooking oil. The pair play a variety of homemade instruments with their band “April Mae & The June Bugs.”

This is the sixth in a series of articles profiling musicians in Moorestown. This week’s article highlights April Mae Iorio and her husband Dave “Catfish” Fecca who perform roots music.

Dave “Catfish” Fecca began taking guitar lessons when he was 14 years old. He’d wistfully stare at a photo the instructor had on the wall of his daughter and make occasional inquiries about her during his two years of lessons. One night when Fecca was in his 20s, he was at a blues club when he looked across the room, and there she was: “the girl in the picture.” So, he walked right up to her.

“I said, ‘you’re the girl in the picture,’” Fecca said.

The run-in led to Fecca and April Mae Iorio dating (after she checked him out with her father, of course), and the pair would later become husband and wife as well as as musical duo. Together with their upright bassist, they form April Mae & The June Bugs, a roots band influenced by jump blues, swing and rockabilly.

Both Iorio and Fecca come from musical families. Iorio fondly recalls falling asleep to the sounds of her dad’s acoustic guitar, and Fecca’s brother taught him a thing or two on guitar. For years, Iorio sang and played the bass but never sang publicly. Not long before meeting Fecca, Iorio’s friend asked her to join his band implying that she’d play bass. Instead, when she arrived, Iorio’s friend surprised her by saying she’d be singing — a trick she’s grateful for looking back.

Iorio met Fecca shortly after that band broke up, and the pair began playing together as duo. Their first showcase was at the Moorestown Community House.

Together they embarked on a bit of a musical evolution. Both were interested in blues music, but over the years, they began investigating the origins of blues and rock. The further back they looked, the more they started incorporating swing, jump blues and rockabilly sounds into their repertoire. Iorio said it took them around 10 years to find their current sound.

Before listening to a single note, it’s clear that Iorio and Fecca have a sound all their own. Iorio’s hair is styled into a vintage pin curl with piercing true red lipstick, and Fecca sports a distinct smattering of facial hair. The two can be seen throughout town driving their “veggie bus” that runs on oil (with funnel cake being their favorite source).

In recent years, the pair became homemade instrument enthusiasts. A neighbor made cigar box guitars, so Fecca began adding those into his repertoire. They even created their own instrument for Iorio to play by fusing together a bugle and a kazoo.

One day that same neighbor brought over a washboard for Iorio to try out. While most washboard players use a metal tool or fork to play, Iorio wanted something more feminine and campy to play with. So she and Fecca designed elbow length glove with 24 karat gold plated nails attached that she uses when she plays.

Usually they play as a duo or a trio with their bassist, but on occasion they’ll tag in a drummer when they want to have more of a swing sound. In the early days of rockabilly, Johnny Cash and the like slapped on the upright bass to get a percussion sound, so Iorio and Fecca more often than not follow that model.

April Mae & The June Bugs are currently working on their fifth and sixth albums simultaneously. The fifth is a Halloween album titled “Boogie Boo,” which will feature a mix of original songs and some more obscure covers.

“We look for really old things that have kind of fallen out of musical consciousness — that are really fun or witty, and we will rework them,” Iorio said.

The plan is to have the album completed by March so that Iorio, who has a background in graphic design, can get to work on designing the cover and marketing in time for Halloween. The band is also recording an album comprised of songs that they’ve written that haven’t fit into some of their previous albums.

Their sources of inspiration are endless. Fecca said Iorio’s woken him up in the middle of the night more than a time or two to share her ideas.

At the end of the day, they just want to put on a lively show. Fecca said when you come to see April Mae & The June Bugs expect to see a spirited performance.

April Mae & The June Bugs’ next performance is on Saturday, April 6, at WCUW Live In Station Concert (Quartet) Worcester, Mass. They’ll perform closer to home in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 18 at The Paris Bistro and Thursday, April 25 from 7 to 9 p.m. at The Whole Hog Cafe in Cherry Hill. For more information on the group and to see a full list of its upcoming performances, visit www.AprilMAE.com.

Know a local band, vocalist or performer who should get featured in the series? Email Kelly Flynn at kflynn@newspapermediagroup.com with suggestions.