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Sass-a-brass trumpets representation as demand grows for its roving queer street performances

DATE POSTED:June 18, 2024

When Rosie O’Brien first organized a queer street parade brass band — specializing in Mardi Gras and Pride vibes — the sousaphonist-turned-arts leader had no idea the cultural impact and representation Sass-a-brass could bring to Kansas City.

Members of Sass-a-brass pose at a June performance; photo courtesy of Sass-a-brass

“The first time we got together as a band was for the first Lawrence pride parade in 2018,” explained O’Brien. “It was small, it was cute.”

As word of mouth grew, so too did the band’s roster of musicians — now at about 30 who rotate between events when they’re available. And while O’Brien had initially hoped to play just one or two pride parades each year, Sass-a-brass is now on track to finish 2024 with nine performances — including its recent appearance at Boulevardia — under the band’s belt. 

The scale of Sass-a-brass’ shows ranges from KC’s biggest to smaller performances like a recent block party commemorating Womontown, a historic Kansas City safe haven for lesbians in the 1980s and 1990s.

Each member of the band comes from different backgrounds and musical skill levels, O’Brien said, noting that diversity contributes to the appeal and success of Sass-a-brass.

Click here to learn more about the history of Sass-a-brass.

Style and substance

Sass-a-brass is an “unamplified roving street parade band,” O’Brien said. Because band members’ instruments don’t need microphones, they can walk and play at the same time, as well as encouraging crowd participation.

“The general interest from the band is to make fun music that also has a liberatory thesis,” O’Brien explained. “So not only do we play New Orleans-style street parade and jazz music with the improv tradition, but we also do arrangements of protest tunes and union organizing songs.”

“Our mission is to create a supportive environment for queer and women musicians to play and perform together in a band,” O’Brien continued, noting that in Kansas City specifically, a lot of the jazz scene is male dominated.

Click here to follow Sass-a-brass on Instagram.

The post Sass-a-brass trumpets representation as demand grows for its roving queer street performances appeared first on Startland News.