A marching band that doesn't march: this week on The Green Room

Feb 18, 2016

It’s kind of difficult to explain exactly what Mucca Pazza is. Even it’s own members have trouble describing the group at times.

To some, Mucca Pazza is a marching band that doesn’t march. Others say it’s a marching band that thinks it’s a rock n’ roll band. 

Whatever description fits best, Mucca Pazza is a group of about 30 self-described misfits who missed the days of high school band, theater and cheer. And so, they came up with their own group.

On Saturday, Interlochen Center for the Arts will be hosting a free Mucca Pazza performance, as part of the annual Winterlochen festivities.

The band has an eclectic combination of instruments— from tuba, to electric mandolin and everything in-between. Plus, band members dress in a wild variety of uncoordinated thrift store attire. To top it all off, the group has it’s own dedicated troupe of cheerleaders complete with original Mucca Pazza cheers. 

“What we are is a collection of individuals that have somehow managed to find each other that don’t exactly belong in any other kind of ensemble,” says Ronnie Kuller, who plays accordion in the band. “And thank goodness.”

Mucca Pazza draws from a lot of different music influences— from big band, to rock n’ roll, to something called gypsy swing. 

Meghan Strell is a cheerleader in the band. She says the cheerleaders in the liminal space, serve to connect the audience with the band. 

“There is a style of performance that’s very strongly connected to the audience,” says Strell. “And I think that’s what the cheerleaders really bring to the band.”

Strell is surprised by how many people come up to her after a show to tell her they want to be a Mucca Pazza cheerleader. She thinks it’s because it all seems accessible.

“You could be a cheerleader without actually taking your saxophone out from under your bed,” Strell explains.

Since the band formed in 2004, it’s enjoyed plenty of national exposure. The group performed on NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series, at the Kentucky Derby, and even had an appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Next, band members would like to take the show to Europe. 

“If someone has an idea for some sort of rocket that can send us there,” says Ronnie Kuller. “That’s been one of our long-term goals.”