Mission: We come together to have fun playing music, to reclaim and enrich public spaces by sharing our fun and music with our friends and neighbors, and to forward the progressive organizations and social causes we support in our community and around the world.
Music: Our primary musical and cultural inspiration is the American NOLA brass band experience, and our repertoire draws heavily on that long tradition. But we also feel a kinship with (and borrow repertoire from) the larger American folk and town band traditions, as well as the rich and vast post-colonial explosion of indigenous brass bands and protest music the world over. Ragtime to klezmer to hip hop, no genre or musical inspiration is off limits.
Organization: We have no leader, and all musical and other decisions are made democratically and by (loosely defined) consensus. In the absence of a leader, and knowing that everyone’s availability is different and changing, members volunteer to take on different leadership roles in different instances: coordinating gigs, arranging/transcribing tunes, recruiting and mentoring new members, leading rehearsals and performances, managing accounts and band business, updating website and other fan stuff, etc.
Membership: We do not have auditions, per se, and we encourage members of all musical backgrounds who value and respect our mission. But any new member needs to be invited and/or accepted by the respective section (saxes, trumpets, percussion, etc.). Also, one band member should be responsible as a ‘mentor’ for any newcomer, helping them get oriented, helping them with repertoire where necessary, and explaining to them, with regrets, when they don’t work out.
Participation: There is no minimum participation required, but full-time members (as opposed to ‘subs’) agree to keep their availability for rehearsals and gigs updated on the gig-o-matic week by week. Anyone (full-time or sub member) who wants to perform at a gig needs to come to the rehearsal prior to that gig. Anyone can suggest a gig, or a song, or volunteer to lead a rehearsal or performance, and is encouraged to seek help and guidance from other band members.
Performances: We’ll consider any gig consistent with our mission. Any gig under consideration requires a band member to be ‘champion’ to advocate, coordinate, and determine whether we can perform the gig. They may also be musical leader for that gig, but they need not be (see gig contact and musical leader responsibilities, below).
Finances: We have no set fee, and do not seek individual or collective profit. But we do incur expenses, and on a case-by-case basis we may request payment, or accept a gift, for certain performances and organizations where appropriate. Unless agreed to otherwise, any money from gigs or other band revenue will be kept in a band bank account, and all expenses paid from that account will be subject to approval and review by the band on a regular basis.
Communication: Everyone is encouraged to speak up on important band decisions, at rehearsal and/or on the band listserv. Band discussions on important matters are generally reserved for the end of rehearsals, with follow-up e-mails to listserv for those who could not attend. To avoid e-mail congestion, all members agree to use the gig-o-matic wherever possible to relay availability and updated gig details or cancellations, and reserve the listserv for other urgent discussion and coordination. Everyone’s timely input on the gig-o-matic is essential, so we can confirm or cancel gigs, be realistic about our capacity, and avoid snubbing those friends and organizations who ask us to play for their causes.
Mistakes: Despite our best efforts, we’ll make plenty — sour notes, missed cues, missing players, bad tune or tempo calls, even the occasional instrument or wardrobe malfunction. We know that’s the nature of the spontaneous and participatory music we make, the price — trifling, as it turns out — that we pay for the musical and human liberation we celebrate and share with our audience. Trusting each other to forgive those mistakes is essential to our cause, and the secret to our success. If we love ourselves for who we are and what we create — mistakes and all — our audience will love us for it too (and likely won’t even know mistakes were made).
Rehearsal begins at 7:30 sharp every Tuesday night at the Church. At least 24 hour e-mail notice is required to cancel for weather, or to suggest a change of venue. Any changes or cancellations will be posted on the front door of the Church.