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 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 , 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?