(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Combining the spirit of punk rock with the fun of a fireman’s parade, the 30-member Mucca Pazza – “the marching band that thinks it’s a rock ’n roll band” – takes over MASS MoCA‘s campus for five performances throughout the weekend of August 16-18, 2013.
The Mucca Pazza catalog covers everything from Balkan brass to reworked 1960s TV show themes to pieces by Shostakovich and Bartok… plus cheerleaders. Performances will take place Friday, August 16, at 8pm; Saturday, August 17, at 3pm and 8pm; and Sunday, August 18, at noon and 3pm.
The members of Mucca Pazza (Italian for “crazy cow”) came together in Chicago, bound by the common goal of finding a musical outlet and having some fun. They got started by playing in factory parking lots on Sundays. “We figured no one would bother us in an industrial area,” explains sousaphone player Mark Messing. “It was also weirdly inspiring to be there, by ourselves, on the Chicago River, among all these big scrap yards. We felt like we were putting together something from scrap.” Crowds began to show up every week to listen, coffee and donuts in hand, drawn in by the troupe’s infectious excitement.
This rag-tag collective of punk-loving music enthusiasts shares the spirit of improvisation and a desire to break musical boundaries. Witness: Mucca Pazza’s hockey helmet-amp, an innovation that allows a whole new section of instruments, lovingly dubbed “the freaks,” to be added to the typical marching band orchestra.
Ordinarily we don’t like to quote others, but the New York Times has written colorfully, enthusiastically, and extensively about Mucca Pazza, so why not?
NYT: “Mucca Pazza provided Globalfest’s show-business pizazz. It’s a big surreal marching band in brightly unmatching uniforms, complete with some happily nerdy cheerleaders. Clowning constantly but playing precisely, Mucca Pazza’s compositions invoke a world of brass bands and marching bands, from American high-school style to zigzagging Balkan tunes to something akin to a Fellini soundtrack — fun in a relentless way.”
“At first listen it can be hard to put your finger on what exactly Mucca Pazza is. A 30-member music ensemble from Chicago, it includes the usual brass and percussion, with what it calls its ‘freak’ section — guitars, mandolins, violins and accordions amplified with speakers in the musicians’ helmets. The band’s name means ‘mad cow’ in Italian and is what one member, Sharon Lanza, described as ‘silliness that stuck.’ But don’t be fooled: these mad hatters with instruments deliver, banging out unique renditions of 20th-century music, television-show themes, car-alarm melodies and original tunes with skill and the help of a couple of cheerleaders.”
Tickets for Mucca Pazza at MASS MoCA are $14 for adults and $8 for children under 12. Museum members receive a 10% discount. For performance times, please call 413.662.2111 x1 or visit massmoca.org. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located on Marshall Street in North Adams. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 x1 during Box Office hours, or purchased online at MASS MoCA.