Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Sudden M Pac Band

MPasSudden M Pac made its debut at the City of Falls Church’s Watch Night New Year’s Eve celebration last year, and the band is coming back to this year to help party-goers ring in 2012. The band, now called Sudden M Pac Band featuring Unlimited Soul, will take the main stage at the outdoor celebration at 10:45 p.m. and perform Motown favorites up until midnight.

For Sudden M Pac Band founder Andre` Jackson, last year’s performance presented a unique opportunity. A part-time City Recreation and Parks employee, sports coach, and full-time Westlawn Elementary School instructional assistant, Jackson was able to sing for children at Watch Night he has met in his many roles and show them a different side of the mentor they had come to know.

“It was fun just to see kids that you coach, or referee, who have to see you in a certain way, then get to see you up there free and loose and performing,” Jackson said of last year’s performance, adding that he could hear “coach” shouted from the crowd while he was on stage. “They were really receptive to it.”

The band has since become a favorite of City functions, performing this past year at a fundraiser for the Falls Church Homeless Shelter and playing tunes for dancing revelers at the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce’s annual gala.

While the modest compensation for performing at this volunteer-run event and cold weather might be deterrents to making a repeat appearance, Jackson said the band’s positive experience last year had them looking forward to playing Watch Night again.

“It was cold, but once we got on stage and we started dancing, I think the crowd gave us a lot of energy,” Jackson said. “I work there in the City – so I’m in the Community Center all the time and I coach at the high school, and I think a lot of it was the energy from the kids from the crowd seeing me there.”

The band first formed in 2003 as a group of musicians hoping to address the dearth of “old-school” music acts in the Washington, D.C. music scene, taking cues from The O’Jays, The Temptations and Aretha Franklin in putting together its R&B sound. While the band’s performers have come and gone over the years, Jackson has stayed on and will be joined on the stage Saturday night by singers London Edgerton and Shelton Price, drummer Michael Hines, percussionist Lonnie Lane, bassist Tony Foster, and guitarist Jerry Miller. The group will put on a show that Jackson says will be quite different from the one that delighted last year’s audience, with a fresh set list and new lighting and sound arrangements that will make the performance “a complete show.”

“Hopefully it will be a good show they can bring in the New Year with,” Jackson said.

Sudden M Pac Band isn’t Jackson’s only musical project. A choir and glee club singer since he was 5 years old, Jackson was once part of The Choice 4, a popular D.C.-area group, and currently tours with one of the lead singers from The Temptations.

Adding some occasional work in theater and being a father to three boys – Andre Harold, Makhi Jackson and Samari Jackson – to Jackson’s music and education commitments makes for a packed schedule that he credits his wife, Tracey, with helping him maintain as he pursues his passions.

“If it wasn’t for my wife, I would probably miss a whole lot of stuff.”