The Moorestown Music Collective’s (MMC) Music on Main concert series featured April Mae & the June Bugs earlier this month, a show that was played to a full house.
“When we did the Mardi Gras show at Perkins (Center for the Arts) with the brass band, that was really joyful music, and the music we do with the June Bugs is joyful, too, so it feels so good to be playing that music again and making people happy,” Mae said of the performance earlier this year.
The energy that Mae (lead singer, frottoir and kazoozaphone) and the June Bugs’ Topher Horner (upright bass), Tony Mascara (drums) and Catfish Dave (cigar box guitar, banjo and mandolin) feel with the audience pumps up every performance and is something special that Mae compares to cloud nine.
“I always feel like, that’s how you know when you’re doing the right thing for you,” she explained. “You’re feeling so good about it. It’s giving you joy and it’s giving someone else joy.”
While some of the band’s shows feature duos or trios, the MMC show featured the June Bugs quartet with a playlist that included everything from swing to early New Orleans jazz and Americana.
“This year, I’ve really been wanting to do quartet shows, from being away from everything for so long (the June Bugs started playing live again last year post-COVID) that’s really my favorite format,” Mae noted.
“I’m really excited to have everybody there.”
At the beginning of spring the June Bugs like to put on swing shows, performances that align with the pink moon. According to timeanddate.com, this year’s pink moon occurred on April 6 and gets its name from pink wildflowers that bloom early in the season.
It is believed the name comes from the brightly colored pink phlox wildflowers that are native to North America and often bloom around the time of April’s full moon.
“A pink moon is like the first full moon of spring,” said Mae, “and when you look at it in the sky, it almost has like a pink haze to it.”
House concerts and spaces such as the Moorestown Theater Company – where MMC shows are held – are two of Mae’s favorite formats for playing live. She loves the atmosphere that such intimate spaces create, one with no distractions.
“The alternative place when I was first starting that everybody played was bars or restaurants with bars and that was fine, but now all those spaces have TVs everywhere,” she remarked. “That whole kind of energetic back and forth gets a ball and chain on it when you’re performing someplace with a TV.”
A central piece of April Mae & the June Bugs is the boogie bus, a vehicle purchased in 2010. It runs on French fry and vegetable oils, and its design is reminiscent of buses and trains in the 1930s and ‘40s. The band has taken the boogie bus up and down the East Coast.
“Sometimes when we’re traveling to different states, people will come up alongside us on the highway and they’ll wave and they’ll smile,” Mae said. “ … It’s bringing joy just by people seeing it, which I love.”
Mae’s favorite destinations with the boogie bus include New Orleans and Memphis and natural landscapes.
“Sometimes when we’re touring, we’ll pull into a campground to stay,” she said, “so then we get to have some time with nature as we’re traveling, which is really lovely. “ … It’s a vehicle for joy.
“ … After a couple of hours of driving, there’s a release that happens of all that busy chatter and thoughts in my mind that really calms down,” Mae added. “There’s a part of touring that’s really therapeutic.”
The quartet’s next show will be at Moorestown’s Second Street market on Thursday, May 11, at the township municipal complex. Visit the April Mae & The June Bugs Facebook page or website at https://aprilmaeandthejunebugs.com for more information.