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Mucca Pazza

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Chicago punk rockers, circus act, and marching band Mucca Pazza formed on a principle that many musicians shun out of hand: band geeks are awesome. In fact, much of Mucca Pazza’s appeal comes from their wholehearted acceptance — even celebration — of the band nerd identity. The 30-piece group includes standard marching band fare like saxophones, sousaphone, trumpets, trombones, and drums in addition to less common elements like accordion, guitar, violin, and designated cheerleaders. Taking to the stage in intentionally mismatched thrift-store band uniforms, Mucca Pazza perform repertoire including rearranged rock tunes, traditional Czech folk songs, original compositions, and other strange bedfellows too numerous to name. Band director Mark Messing first invited instrumentalist friends to meet up in Chicago’s industrial district to play, hoping to create a “marching band culture nostalgia group.” More and more musicians continued to arrive for auditions, until the band had swollen to its current epic size. Building up interest and curiosity through word of mouth alone, Mucca Pazza began performing in local bars and clubs. Though it took some time, concert attendees eventually started to outnumber musicians. Performance venues themselves began to compete with the band for oddness, and have included public parks, the stage of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and canoes floating down the Chicago River. In 2007 Mucca Pazza filled a bus and took to the road for their first-ever tour, following the recording of their debut EP, the 30-minute A Little Marching Band.

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