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Thursday, March 5, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 16.0° F  Fair
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Madison Music Project -- Marvin's Garden

Today's highlighted Madison-based musical act is Marvin's Garden.

While the string-heavy jam stylings of Marvin's Gardens can be described as "Midwest Rock," there's actually more to it than that. "Combining elements of funk, folk, rock, and rhythm and crossbreeding them with the wit and wisdom of four corn-fed country boys," as the band describes itself, "has been a successful formula for these guys in the short period that they have been playing together." They're actually just over a year old, having initially jammed together and subsequently forming in the autumn of 2005.

Who makes up this quartet of country boys? On the vocals and acoustic guitar is Justin Sprague, accompanied by Tim Peterson on the upright and electric bass. Two of the gardeners have nicknames, meanwhile. There's Ken Leiser (or "The Factor") on the violin, guitars and vocals, and Tim "Turkish" Giles on the drums. It's through their ability both to work with their instruments and together that the band can pull off its fusion of folk, jazz, blues, funk, chamber and rockabilly.

After playing together for just over half a year, Marvin's Gardens got to work in June on their debut album. Tentatively scheduled for release sometime between late January and early March of 2007, it will be titled Why Should I Change?. The album will be released by PBM Records, an indie label based in Los Angeles whose small roster of artists (that includes a Ray Manzarek collaboration) runs from electronic to jazz to rock. "In just one short year," as promoted by the label, "Marvin's Garden has yielded a bountiful harvest, and anticipates covering more acreage with next season's crop."

Three of the band's songs are available for listening on its MySpace page. They are: "julie b tease," "heavy," and "Free Lee." While the first is the version that will be appearing on their upcoming album, the latter two songs are live versions, each performed in early 2006 in the UW Memorial Union Great Hall and at the King Club. There's more info about Marvin's Gardens provided by their label, including photos and a recorded version of their track "Monsters." Then there's, which features a list of the group's upcoming gigs.

The upcoming weekend should be a busy one for the band. On Thursday, Dec. 7, they'll be performing late at the High Noon Saloon in an after-party for the Gov't Mule show set for the Barrymore. Marvin's Garden will be returning to the stage on Friday night, too, when they play at the King Club to kick of a night of funk and jam at the venue. They'll be returning to the King Club less than two weeks later on Wednesday, Dec. 20, where they'll be playing a food drive benefit for Savory Sunday, which provides meals for the homeless in downtown Madison every Wednesday and Sunday.

This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.

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