Mad Marionettes Experiment Acoustically at Bistro 400

When the Mad Marionettes were declared the IE's “Next Big Thing” three years ago, the ultra-eclectic four-piece band from Riverside was gaining
notoriety for its energetic charismatic live shows.

The Mad Marionettes were
hitting audiences with a rare blend of experimental banjo-punk that
could blisteringly turn shades darker at a moment's notice with eerie melodies (hauntingly reminiscent
of the Midnight Syndicate).

If you weren't being blown away or didn't find
yourself cradled in a corner somewhere in the fetal position, you weren't
listening closely enough.

The Mad Marionettes' sound and size have also changed; they've doubled from a quartet to an eight-piece band. Keyboardist Ulises “Cheese”
Rodriguez says the expansions were born out of creative necessity. “Danny and Ivan
McCormick continued developing the music,” he says of his fellow band mates “when Danny
felt we needed more people to do what we had in mind.” Anyone who had the
opportunity to witness the Mad Marionettes in the early days noticed a complex
stage performance underlying how their ambition outsized their personnel. “When
we were a four piece we switched instruments a lot during shows,” Cheese
recalled, “We simply saw that we had to have more members.”

Reconstructed in the expansive musical and creative vision
of the band, the Mad Marionettes have made a habit of taking to the Bistro 400
restaurant in Santa Ana every first Saturday of the month. The venue serves as
a laboratory setting for them and their continuing evolution. “The Bistro shows
are acoustic and we play a lot of our music but we also do a lot of
improvisation and play a lot of jazz,” Cheese lets on. “We also invite musician
friends and others to jam with us.”

Going with the flow of change, fans, so far, have embraced
the new sonic explorations. “Everybody has been very welcoming for us and they
have a good time,” the keyboardist explains. “If it wasn't for the people we
wouldn't keep coming back there.”

The Bistro 400 acoustic shows along with the full fledged
performances the Mad Marionettes still deliver in venues across the southland
has halted the band from becoming musically atrophied. “Definitely the music
has changed a lot since then,” Cheese says of time since being declared the “Next
Big Thing” of all of the Inland Empire. “It's still energetic, but more
interesting. It's more melodic and developing to its full potential.”

The band
hopes to bring its new brew fully into the recording studio soon and looks to next year as
the time they could potentially unleash a new album release show on fans and
newcomers alike. In the meantime, you can catch the musicians puppeteering their
sound at Bistro 400 and assess their compelling work in progress live as it

Mad Marionettes play
Bistro 400, 400 W. Fourth Street, Santa Ana. (714) 543-9821,, Sat. 9 p.m. Free with a
one drink/item purchase minimum. All Ages.

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