Recycled Percussion visits Thorntons Ferry

Anne Graves, Thornton Ferry School kindergarten teacher, shows off her moves during the teacher dance battle, part of the Recycled Percussion show at the school on April 5. Jennifer Saucier, physical education teacher, cheers her on.

MERRIMACK- Justin Spencer has played with his band Recycled Percussion on national television and in front of sold out shows all over the world, but he still makes a point to play for some of his most dedicated fans: school children.

Spencer joined 550 elementary school students and their teachers at Thorntons Ferry School in Merrimack Thursday, April 5 for an “inspirational assembly” that principal Bridey Bellemare assured would “blow their minds.”

Judging by the screaming, cheering, autograph requesting and dancing, he did as promised.

Recycled Percussion is made up of Spencer, Ryan Vezina, Todd Griffin and Jim Magoon and they play music on anything they can – trash cans, buckets, a kitchen sink, their shoes, anything.

Originally from Manchester, the group got its start in Spencer’s parents’ garage, hoping to win a talent show for the dual purpose of playing music and impressing girls.

While they only placed second in the talent show, the band ultimately placed third on “America’s Got Talent” a few years later, and now they have their own TV show, “Chaos and Kindness.”

The show, Spencer explained in an interview, is like “Jackass hits Make a Wish,”

Meaning they do “really stupid stuff” but also help out people in need who may be ill or otherwise struggling. The goal, he said, is to be kind, and to teach other people to be kind too.

This is part of what keeps him coming to schools.

Plus, he told the kids, their first ever gig was for an elementary school in Keene, where, he joked, they were paid in fish sticks and chocolate milk.

He taught students how to make music with everything around them, using materials from the school to demonstrate.

“You don’t need a lot of money to do a lot of really cool things,” he said.

He showed them how to make sounds with their mouths, like beatboxing, how to play their shoes, make sounds by clapping, hitting their chests and more.

While they went wild for his music, nothing compared to the reactions during the teacher dance battle, where teachers of all grade levels broke out moves like the sprinkler, a few hip shakers and even the worm. Principal Bridey Bellemare took her shoes off so she could break it down even more, and was the clear winner, judging by the student body response.

Spencer said he was glad to see the teachers and administration have so much fun with it, as not all schools react that way.

Over 200 schools reached out in hopes that Recycled Percussion would visit, and they selected 15 to 20, with Thorntons Ferry being the only one in the region.

“It’s a good opportunity to have fun and dance and laugh,” he said, but the main goal is to teach kids to be kind.

“The message is clear and the teachers help to instill that.”

Their message resonated well with the students in Merrimack, he noted, because Thorntons Ferry already has an ongoing kindness initiative in the school. The kids not only try to be kind to one another, “filling buckets,” as they call it, but have also raised money for various organizations, and recently finished a letter writing campaign for service members.

Spencer closed his visit by asking the students to promise him they would always be kind and treat everyone with respect.

He also had them promise that they would go home, take out their pots and pans, and try to make their own music.

Spencer said he usually gets a few emails from parents about the latter.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or