Category Archives: street bands

having to do with the international sisterhood of wonderful and bizare radical brass bands

BLO turns 5

The Brass Liberation Orchestra celebrated 5 years of playing music in the streets for politics and pleasure. We threw oursevles a party at Balazo Gallery on Mission St. and took a quick tour down to 16th and back. As jamie put it, “we are now ready for kindergarten.”


In this clip we are playing our arrangement of the Fela Kuti song “Dog Eat Dog.” There are also some photos posted online.

Sbandata! 2005

Yet Another Account of Skye Crashing Around with Large Groups of Strange Loud People and Understanding Very Little

from an email I sent in may 2005

The third Sbandata, an insane convergence of street bands, mostly brass bands, from italy and europe.

This year it was in Rome. It was madness. I was only there saturday and sunday, which is probably good, ’cause I don’t know if I would have survived three days. Either I would have lost my hearing or floated off into the stratosphere supported by an angelic chorus of baritone horns.

Imagine if Kustritza was asked to throw a civic event …..

sbandata posterIf I understand right, “sbandata” means something like “to drift” or “to swerve” as in “the drunken musicians swerved into the street, colliding with pedestrians and tangling traffic with continuous high-decibal acoustic music and general joyus mayhem”. Or something like “he falls in love but lost the mind and is wandering in the street.” Very apt description. I don’t really know much about who did the organizing, I think the coordination was done by folks from the Roman band Titubanda (probably the best street band in Italy), with some financial support from the city of Rome. I think the city gave us the food and wine anyway, as well as somehow supporting/permiting the squated/ceeded ex-elementary school where we slept (those of us who did) on the floor. Everything seemd to appear magically out of delightful anarchy.

Continue reading Sbandata! 2005

Brass Liberation Orchestra

blo logoA loose affiliation of radical street musicians. The BLO has helped support a large number of actions and issues in the SF bay area over the last several years. Including helping to shutdown the SF financial district during the protests at the beginning of the Iraq war. Since I don’t actually play a horn, I started out playing snare and now a very large surdo. But I’m kind of a “band member at large” as I’m often not in the bay area.

The BLO plays a strange mix of music, but lots of influence from various balkan brass bands and creative arrangements of political music from different ages and movements. There is more information, sheet music, etc on the website.

There seems to be increasing numbers of bands like this in the US, which I find very exciting. Were are beginning to join the international sisterhood of radical brass bands. Groups like the now disbanded Infernal Noise Brigade from seattle, the Hungry March Band and Rude Mechanical Orchestra from NYC. There is now a US email list for interested street band folk, and hopefully this fall we will have the first sbandata-style party (sbandapaloza?) in the form of the HONK festival in Boston.