All-Female Street Bands: Brass Chicks Hit the Streets

The Original Pinettes Brass Band, via Milford Street

This past October, WBUR Boston published a great story about The Original Pinettes in anticipation of the band’s Honk! performance. All-female brass bands are a growing phenomenon, bringing the awesomeness of women playing brass to festivals, parades, and the streets.  This blog has historically focused on classical and jazz performers, but I want to take this opportunity to branch out and highlight these incredible musicians!

The Original Pinettes

The Original Pinettes are New Orleans’ only all-female second-line brass band.  Founded at an all-girls’ school in 1991, they are now a multi-generational group of women from many walks of life.  They worked to unite their community when Katrina tore it apart. And, in 2013, they even won the of the Red Bull “Street Kings” brass band blowout competition, earning the title “Street Queens!”

Yes Ma’am! Brass Band

Yes Ma’am! Brass Band was formed in October, 2012 in Austin, Texas.  Since then, they have toured to festivals around the country performing a mixture of covers and original charts, bringing parties wherever they go.

Filthy FemCorps

Filthy FemCorps started in January, 2016, in Seattle, Washington by Emily Smith and Liz Currey.  They are, in their own words, “a hot bag full of fierce badass women who aren’t afraid to be weird, genuine, raw, sweaty, confident, honest, loving and real.”

Boycott Brass

Boycott , based in Somerville, Massachusetts, describes itself as “a no-boys-all-badass brass band playing 90s pop hits, balkan tunes, and other songs from the European and American street band traditions.”  With only five members, they are smaller than the other groups featured here.  Nonetheless, they make a big sound:

It seems to me that there are disproportionately many all-female street brass bands compared to the numbers of female brass musicians in more formal, establishment-type orchestras and jazz groups.  Perhaps these groups serve as a seperatist space for women to make music free from patriarchal cocepts of how music-making is supposed to work. In street bands, women can be loud, they can be raucous, and they can be free from needing concert venues’ approval.  On the other hand, buskers I see tend to be male, probably because of safety issues associated with staying out on the streets all day.  But perhaps those safety issues can lead women to band together, creating brass band to find safety in numbers.

What do you think?  Does street music have special value as a venue for female brass musicians?  If so, why?

4 thoughts on “All-Female Street Bands: Brass Chicks Hit the Streets

  1. wsclarinetblog November 9, 2016 / 10:21 am

    I love this post and how you highlighted female brass groups around the country! It’s definitely something you don’t see everyday.

  2. cellotalkblog November 11, 2016 / 11:51 am

    This is a great blog! Everything from the logo to the content I enjoyed. This reminded me of a recent SNL performance, I think it was Demi Levato, but she had a all female brass section behind her. It’s great to hear the stories of these local groups.
    Keep up the great work! I looking forward to reading about more brass chicks!

  3. yuchaoweng November 15, 2016 / 5:57 pm

    Great Blog! I love how you organized your videos with detailed description and make it easy to be understood and accessed. I enjoy reading it a lot!

  4. andrewkuster December 11, 2016 / 2:46 pm

    I’m glad you blogged about this. Whenever I have a chance, I love wandering the city streets and coming across street musicians. They seem to me to embody the urban space and transform it into an environment that everyone within listening distance emotionally shares. I think it’s cool how encountering an all-female band can open up my thoughts about social roles in ways that other ensembles might not. And now, all I want to do is to go somewhere urban and find one of these four terrific bands….

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