The eclectic ensemble

Saturday, March 1, 2008 | 7:32 p.m. CST; updated 10:42 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
People watch the marching band Mucca Pazza perform during the March to March parade Friday afternoon, in downtown Columbia. The parade, a True/False Film Festival event, started at Ninth and Broadway and made its way down Broadway, ending at Stephens College.

COLUMBIA — An eclectic ensemble of more than two dozen musicians clad in mismatched marching band uniforms took over downtown Columbia on Friday during the True/False Film Festival’s March into March parade. Later that night, the troupe delighted audiences at the festival’s Lover’s Leap party at Tonic.

Mucca Pazza, a self-described “circus punk” marching band, was a crowd favorite. The group, whose name is Italian for “crazy cow,” was invited back to True/False this year after playing in 2007. The Chicago-based ensemble uses traditional marching band instruments, but also makes room for a violin, a mandolin, an accordion and an electric guitar. The instruments’ sounds are amplified with helmet-mounted speakers as the band marches.


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“It’s amazing. We love True/False. We regret that we are only here for one day,” percussionist Paul Brannon said.

Brannon, who grew up near Kansas City, was first introduced to the band by his girlfriend and Mucca Pazza accordion player Ronnie Kuller.

The group is a descendent of the All-American Anti-War Marching Band that was formed in 2003 to protest U.S. involvement in Iraq. But the sousaphone player, Mark Messing, wanted something more sustainable that would create a long-term group of diverse musicians and instruments. The band, which has appeared on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” has grown to 30 members and has even added a few devoted cheerleaders.

The band’s theatrical performances fluctuate between loosely calculated formations and a chaotic free-for-all. During Friday’s parade, trombone and trumpet players dashed between spectators to climb atop whatever they could find and played a call-and-response fanfare.

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