Is it okay to be loud? The Detroit Party Marching Band makes it their job.
The Detroit Party Marching Band was founded in 2009 by my good friends John Notarianni and Rachel Harkai who were inspired by their love for New Orleans-style brass music. The DPMB is now a massive, multi-member, amorphous guerilla marching band, often showing up unannounced at bars, events, and other city happenings. One could call it a musical street art project. Today, they are the talk of the town. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon the DPMB — or I should say if they stumble upon you — you will be treated to an unforgettable crash of catchy, in-your-face, unabashed marching band goodness.
Watching the Detroit Party Marching Band is like being somewhere near a tornado and Mardi Gras at the same time. The sound is deafening, but after a few moments of getting over the shock of 20 suited marching band members crashing into your bar or showing up on the street, you will start bouncing your head and tapping your foot. They have been known to cover such extremes as The White Stripes and Lady GaGa. But its the classic brass numbers that really make you feel like you’re stepping into the middle of some bizarre carnival.
They recently led the parade during the March du Nain Rouge, an annual Detroit parade that is held in honor of an old French/Indian legend, about a dwarf who terrorizes Detroit. This little rascal supposedly has shown its face the day the city was founded, in July of 1701, when Cadillac spotted the creature in the woods near their camp; hours later, the men were attacked by a bear that killed one of the weary voyageurs. He showed up again before the fire of 1805 that burned 90% of the city to the ground, before the war of 1812, and even before the 1967 Detroit riots During the parade, revelers burn an effigy of the nuisance dwarf as a way of banishing evil & badness from the city for the forthcoming year.
The Detroit Party Marching Band really has no bounds in terms of where or when they will perform. A bar at 1:00 in the morning? Of course. But would you guess that they have shown up at store openings, barbeques, and even weddings? The band also continues to expand its numbers, with many members joining when and where they can. Therefore the numbers of the band fluctuate with the season. Sometimes you’ll be treated to a nice quartet of horns, tooting an old Bavarian number forgotten by time. Other times you are annihilated with the sound of 20, 25, 30 members thrashing on their instruments in a cacophony of pop music rearranged for brass and percussion.
If you want to see Detroit Party Marching Band in person, there is only one option — come to Detroit, hang out for a few weeks, go to a lot of crazy events and gatherings, and seek out the hidden establishments that might attract a roving marching band… Other than that, just keep your fingers crossed, and your ears perked for the unmistakable sounds the band, just around the corner, just over the freeway, just behind the block.
Photos shot with a medium format 6x17cm panoramic camera with Fuji Astia 100 film. More about the camera: