Marching on: ‘Hungry’ brass band just wants to party

Brass funky: The 20-member Hungry March Band will play the Mardi Gras Bash at the Bell House on Feb. 28.
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They’re hungry for king cake!

The Hungry March Band will once again rock the Bell House for its annual Mardi Gras Bash on Feb. 28. The Brooklyn brass band known for marching in the streets in support of political causes always looks forward to Fat Tuesday, said one long-time member.

“Mardi Gras is one of the few holidays we do every year,” said Jason Candler, who has played saxophone with the band for 17 years. “The brass band tradition of Mardi Gras is way older than us and it’s great to be part of that tradition.”

The Hungry March Band formed to play the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in 1997, and the loose collective of brass players and dancers have supported many political events over the last 20 years. Hungry March still plays at social justice events, including Occupy Wall Street and the Women’s March in Washington D.C. last month, but the group has become less political over the years, said Candler.

“A lot of articles call us anarchists, but we’ve mellowed out over the years — we got tired of getting arrested,” he said. “We were at the Women’s March, but only to get people dancing. We’re definitely not the same band.”

The band now includes about 20 musicians and dancers, and draws on multiple influences to create its party sound.

“We’re not swing and we’re not big band,” he said. “It’s more dance band, and because it’s a Mardi Gras show, we will whip out classic New Orleans tunes.”

But the show will also range beyond the boundaries of the Bourbon Street style, said Candler, including many original songs.

“We’re going to start off in traditional New Orleans style and then we’re doing our own thing,” he said. “We have a few songs that are metal-inspired, meringue, jazz, and twist — all over the map — and put into this brass band arrangement.”

During the show, guests can get a second line feel by following the band’s dancers, who will create a conga line through the venue, said Candler. The band is used to playing outside, so playing in a more intimate space gives the show a lot of extra energy.

“Playing in the streets is a different feeling when playing for people in a room,” said Candler. “Performing live is a totally different experience and we’re a huge band so seeing all the people dance around us is an immersive experience.”

In addition to the Hungry March Barnd, the Fat Tuesday show with feature swing performer Gordon Webster, magician and emcee Tanya Solomon, samples of king cake, and a costume contest.

Mardi Gras Bash at the Bell House [149 Seventh St. between Second and Third avenues in Gowanus, (718) 643–6510,]. Feb. 28 at 9 pm. $15.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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