External Combustion Orchestra is a Steampunk-themed/Celtic-inspired musical experience with something for everyone. The members’ varied backgrounds, unique combinations of instruments, and original storytelling combine to make songs that are like ice cream for your ears (if your ears had mouths to eat ice cream)!
Madame Clarabelle Louisa Paisley (Nikki) flute, bass, ukulele, vocals
Owner and madame of the Boilerplate Saloon. We needed somebody respectable in the group. After the destruction of her seventh husband, she decided to take a respite from keeping the saloon from burning down and came to help take over the world with us. She always appreciates a good moustache, and somehow always manages to find time to feed us delicious treats.
Nikki’s main musical background is classical flute, but she also has many years of performing Celtic music under her belt. She has taken up bass and ukulele in an effort to expand her musical horizons and add missing textures to ECO’s music. She really enjoys singing the pretty stuff, but loves all of the music the band performs, as it encompasses so many genres and styles.
Master Marcus Antonius Valedictus (Mark) cello di spalla
Marcus is a retired military officer who took up natural philosophy. He navigates the airship and contributes to Giant Mechanical Crab design. In addition, he was instrumental in putting down the robot uprising against the Raj in 1848. Handy with sharp and pointy things.
In his youth, Mark had 12 years of strict classical and baroque training, and expected to make a career out of that. Nixon had other ideas. He emerged from military service a bit worse for wear and went on to be everything from “that homeless vet” to scientist, entrepreneur, and, oddly, a professional master of fencing. In his dotage, he has returned to music, and is trying to learn to be less bound by the written note.
Stowaway Allie (Allie) violin, vocals
Stowaway Allie (who may be a mermaid in disguise) was lured aboard our airship due to the copious amount of jellybeans we have in storage. It has yet to be determined if she is actually a mermaid or not, but she does disappear into thin air from time to time. We think we may have seen her playing music with pirates and Irishmen, but have yet to be convinced that our stowaway would stow away on another ship that is clearly not as cool as our airship.
Allie has been playing violin for 22 years. Classically trained and having played in several community orchestras, she discovered a true calling for Irish traditional music in the 2010s when she played jigs and reels at Renaissance festivals throughout the Midwest. Since then she has taken to upbeat and heartfelt fiddle playing, guesting on many local CDs and recording two of her own bands’. Allie can currently be heard in three bands: a steampunk group, External Combustion Orchestra; a traditional Irish band, Beyond the Heather; and an Irish/ancient music group, Jambaroque.
Jack Warren (Steven) guitar
Jack is the Steamwork Springs undertaker and master brewer. He would occasionally accompany other musicians on the guitar in his free time at gigs around town. One day while playing at the Boilerplate Saloon, Clarabelle (a long-time friend and business associate), asked him to join ECO in their quest for world domination. For his audition, he made his spider coffin (which he uses for transportation) dance it’s way to the party crab (which was parked outside his establishment), where he proceeded to play for them!
Steven started his musical training at the age of nine when his progenitors finally caved into his demands for piano lessons. From there he tried to move onto the clarinet, but found he liked percussion more! With this new passion, he began to play in local festivals & various troops. While in his mid 20’s, his band at the time couldn’t find or keep a guitarist, so he picked up the instrument and has been playing that ever since!
Wesley Nottabot (Dustin) percussion
Wesley, inventor extraordinaire (at least in his own mind), was drawn to the Giant Mechanical Crab by the mechanics of the machine. His half-finished inventions are scattered around Six-Fingered Mary’s and Steamwork Springs because as one comes closer to completion he tends to wander on to the next invention. One day while sneaking around the GMC, he was caught by the band. After the robotic revolution that Slim ran off and joined, they thought it would be best to have fewer robots on the crew (and with a surname like Nottabot who could argue?). ECO handed him a drum and told him that was his new job.
Dustin’s musical background is mainly vocal, with 8 years of choir experience. The drum and various other instruments are newer things he is learning in order to add something the band needed. Dustin is a life-long learner so a new challenge is always a good thing.
rank: Minion General
skills: sound mixing, beaded tapestry, band wrangling, schlepping, merchandise, robot operation
bio: Robin comes from Steamwork Springs where she taught the town’s sprogs reading and writing until the fateful day the schoolhouse was crushed by a crashing airship. Since then, she has traveled with External Combustion Orchestra, facilitating their quest for world domination in whatever bizarre ways she is needed.
Kim is a vital member of ECO. Jobs include (but are not limited to) musician-wrangling, handling the sound equipment, taking notes, manning the merch table, and handling band communication.
Photos by Chris Repp and Duane Marshall
Past members include: Kelsey Reid, Libby Green, Sarah Hook, Melody Burns, Marshall Edwards, Diana Corey