Archive for the Marches Category

Stars of Vaudeville #957: The House of David Band

Posted in AMERICANA, Marches, Music, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2016 by travsd


Wow — you could have knocked me over with a feather when I learned about this one. I’d long known that back in the day there was some kind of outfit on network radio called “the House of David”, because Groucho makes a reference to it in Animal Crackers“This program is coming to you from the House of David”.  I’d long assumed it was a reference to the fact that the brothers were Jewish (and I know that other writers and scholars have made this erroneous assumption because I’ve come across it in books). But here’s what it was really a reference to.

The House  of David was actually a Christian religious community founded in Michigan  in March 1903, and with roots that go back to the Second Great Awakening in the late 18th century. By 1906, their commune had hundreds of members and 1,000 acres on their commune, with orchards, a cannery, a steam laundry, and its own electrical plant. The House of David also operated a famous zoological garden and amusement park, several semi-pro baseball teams, and — now we get to the crux — several brass bands which toured the Keith, Orpheum and Pantages circuits between 1906 and 1927.

It’s hard to know what to make of a phenomenon like this. An apocalyptic cult which bases its views on The Book of Revelation yet is mainstream enough to have been a household word. There’s something very “1920s” about that. By the way, the religious group still exists; their website is here. 

For more on vaudeville historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 

Two Boots Mardi Gras Ball is March 4

Posted in Contemporary Variety, Dixieland & Early Jazz, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, Marches, Mardi Gras, PLUGS, SOCIAL EVENTS with tags , on February 24, 2014 by travsd


Honk NYC Launches Today

Posted in BROOKLYN, Contemporary Variety, Dixieland & Early Jazz, Marches, Music, PLUGS, Rock and Pop with tags , on October 15, 2013 by travsd


Brass Ascension Today in Tompkins Square Park

Posted in Contemporary Variety, Marches, Music, PLUGS, Rock and Pop with tags , , on June 21, 2013 by travsd


The Presidential Polonaise

Posted in AMERICANA, CULTURE & POLITICS, Marches, Music with tags , , on November 6, 2012 by travsd

Today is Election Day! And not only that, it’s the birthday of Star of Vaudeville #254: John Philip Sousa (for my full article on him go here). As you pull your lever for President (or whatever the hell one does nowadays), why not listen to this stirring patriotic composition of Mr. Sousa’s, “The Presidential Polonaise”? It never did replace “Hail to the Chief” but what could?

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, to be released by Bear Manor Media in 2013.


James Reese Europe

Posted in African American Interest, Marches, Music, Ragtime, Vaudeville etc. with tags , on February 22, 2012 by travsd

This post is one of a series honoring Black History Month.

Today is the birthday of a pioneering African American musician James Reese Europe (for my full bio go here). And here he is with his band in 1913  (that trombonist is getting a work-out!):

To find out more about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


Stars of the AVT #25: The Hungry March Band

Posted in American Vaudeville Theatre, Contemporary Variety, Marches, Music, PLUGS, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , on June 10, 2011 by travsd

This post is one of a series profiling the hundreds of performers I’ve presented through my American Vaudeville Theatre in celebration of its 15th anniversary. Don’t miss the American Vaudeville Theatre’s 15th Anniversary ExTRAVaganza in the New York International Fringe Festival this August!

I first knew of the Hungry March Band by merely existing in the same aerospace as them in Williamsburg in the late 90s. Lanky, bespectacled trombonist Ben Meyers seemed to be a bridge between both them and the Bindlestiffs. Punk drummer Tim Hoey marched with the band but also backed the Williamsburg-based band Puss Pie, one of the most exciting rock acts I have ever seen.

The HMB  seems to have as its mission the task of single-handedly rehabilitating the ultimate resort of nerdery…the marching band. From the beginning I have always wanted a sort of pit orchestra for my American Vaudeville Theatre. A brass band would be very consonant with the Americana aesthetic I make my bailiwick. I approached them gingerly in the early years but they were always beyond my financial reach to book as an “act”. But the group has two gears. One is street theatre — they are (or at least were) ubiquitous at all manner of parades, protests, street actions, raves, publicity stunts and the like. That’s one way I knew them. They were everywhere. And their very public presence got them great press on the local tv news, and all the major papers. But they also gig for money: they play weddings, parties, and so forth. And, as you can imagine, booking such a large ensemble is expensive.

On one occasion, however, I was able to make it happen by making my show more like the former type of performance (protest), then like the latter (a hire). This was my special anti-RNC political themed edition at the Brick Theater, July 4, 2004, which also featured Reverend Billy. The occasion was quite a delicious bedlam. The house was already full by the time the band showed up. But the HMB by themselves can fill up the 30-seat Brick. The joint was overflowing with sweaty humanity, just how I like it. It became uncertain where the stage, or the event, left off. I like that kind of ambiguity and that kind of chaos and lack of definition  (much to the chagrin of many of my collaborators, I am sure).

At any rate, they have a couple of gigs coming up. Tomorrow they are playing at the annual Trout Parade at upstate Livingston Manor. And on the 21st of this month (the summer solstice) you can catch them locally at the annual Highline Parade as part of Make Music New York.

To learn more about vaudeville past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


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