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March Madness Marching Band heads for HONK again


Road to Honk
by John Malloy

This time last year, the talented oddballs of March Madness Marching Band (MMMB) approached loyal local audiences—shako hats in hand—raising money to take their act from the streets of Lexington to HONK! TX, a community band festival in Austin. A who’s who of Lexington’s arts scene led a show supporting the grassroots group that had already inspired audiences throughout Kentucky.

The success of the 2011 fundraising event enabled a 40-person strong MMMB crew to represent Lexington in Austin last March. They earned rave reviews from festival-goers, media attention in Texas, and an enthusiastic invitation to return in 2012. Band members also shared the musical love en route, hopping off the bus in Memphis to lead a flash mob near Beale Street.

On Saturday, February 18, 2012,

poster by John Lackey

MMMB presents its second annual benefit at Buster’s Billiards & Backroom, “Monkey Monkey Monkey Bash: Back on the Road to HONK!” Local bands, dance groups, and authors will join MMMB in a four-hour stage lineup.

The monkey moniker has fit MMMB’s musicians and dancers ever since co-choreographer Melissa Smyth donned a simian disguise for the band’s 2009 Beaux Arts Ball performance. The Kenn Minter-drawn MMMB logo includes a marching monkey playing the cymbals. And one of MMMB’s most popular story-telling stage shows has been “Space Madness on the Planet of the Apes.”

At any given time, MMMB’s all-volunteer ranks include as many as 60 active musicians, color guard dancers, and freestyle hoopers. MMMB has entertained crowds at sporting events (Rollergirls of Central Kentucky bouts and a

photo by David Fitts

Lexington Legends baseball game), delighted audiences at special events like Lexington’s Pride Festival, the Legacy Bike Trail kickoff, and the Creative Cities Summit, and performed (by invitation) at the Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville in 2009 and 2010. In addition to the core corps, dozens more people often join the artistic entourage for parade performances, such as three straight years of Fourth of July Parades and Roots and Heritage Festivals. In 2011, MMMB’s role in the satirical “Sedentary Parade” received media attention from as far away as Ireland.

Bands taking turns with MMMB on stage at the February 18th event at Buster’s include Big Fresh, The Blueberries, The Payback, FUMA, Prefab Rehab, and Gentleman Relish. The show will also feature appearances by Chip Chop, Rakadu

photo by Jennifer Miller

Gypsy Dance, and author Ed McClanahan.

Tickets are $15 in advance at www.m-m-m-b.org and $20 at the door. Doors open at Buster’s at 8 pm, Saturday Feb 18. MMMB also accepts financial contributions toward HONK! TX travel expenses. The group officially organized as a Kentucky nonprofit corporation, applied last year for federal tax exempt status, and are currently awaiting IRS approval. Info, www.m-m-m-b.org.

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