Please support our programs

Marching for Change: Street Bands in the U.S.


Never miss a show! @ symbol icon Email Signup Spotify Logo Spotify RSS Feed Apple Podcasts
The Brass Liberation Orchestra

The Brass Liberation Orchestra at the Honk! Festival.

There’s an Emma Goldman saying that goes something like this: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution!” Well, in the past decade, more and more political marching bands have been invigorating social movements. In some cases, they’re the protest themselves. On this edition, we look at how musicians are stirring up public spaces; from the streets, to supermarkets to your Facebook feed.


Sarah Valentine, musician, Hungry March Band; Daniel Lang-Levitsky, musician, Rude Mechanical Orchestra; Michele Hardesty, founding (and former) member of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra; Jenna Barrett, musician, Infernal Noise Brigade; I-Ching, musician, Infernal Noise Brigade; Grey Filastine, musician, Infernal Noise Brigade; Ronica Sanyal, vocalist and musician, Infernal Noise Brigade; Jamie Spector, founding member, Brass Liberation Orchestra; Sarah Norr, musician, Brass Liberation Orchestra; Ofir Uziel, musician, Brass Liberation Orchestra.

Marching to the Beat of their Own Drums

Marching bands from North Carolina to Portland, Oregon are bringing humor, politics, and a unique sound to the streets – many of them with a message of social justice.  Once a year, many of these street bands travel to Massachusettes for the Honk Festival. Sarah Danson has more about the festival, and the historical and political traditions that fuel their music.

The Life and Death of the Infernal Noise Brigade

While there are now dozens of street bands around the country and abroad, one from Seattle is known to have been an inspiration. The Infernal Noise Brigade debuted at the Seattle WTO protests in 1999. Jill Freidberg from KBCS in Seattle has their story.

Street Bands Bring Protest to the Internet through Flash Mobs

But some bands are getting more creative about making a political spectacle, by becoming the protest themselves, and using the internet to make their message viral. Making Contact’s Pauline Bartolone knows all about it. Her roommates are in a band called the Brass Liberation Orchestra in San Francisco.

For more information:

Brass Liberation Orchestra
San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Brass Messengers
Minneapolis, MN

Honk! Festival of Activist Street Bands
Somerville, MA

Hungry March Band
New York, NY

Infernal Noise Brigade
Seattle, WA

Pink Puffers
Rome, Italy

Rude Mechanical Orchestra
New York, NY

Videos, etc:

‘Don’t Get Caught in a Bad Hotel’ — BLO flash mob action

‘Caught in a Bad Hotel’ = The Future of Protest?

‘Hey Mackey’ flash mob action


‘Heavy Brass’ – Pink Puffers
‘Bella Ciao’ – Brass Messengers
‘That Moanin’ Trombone’
Various songs by the Infernal Noise Brigade
‘Hey Mackey’ – Brass Liberation Orchestra
‘Bad Hotel’ – Brass Liberation Orchestra
‘BLO Secondline’ – Brass Liberation Orchestra
‘RomaRama’ – Brass Liberation Orchestra

Author: Radio Project

Share This Post On