The Carnival Band (Canadian band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from The Carnival Band)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Carnival Band
The Carnival Band at a Rally Against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline on September 9th, 2017.jpg
The Carnival Band at a Kinder Morgan Pipeline rally.
Background information
Origin East Vancouver
Years active 1997–present

The Carnival Band is a marching band and community orchestra based in the Commercial Drive area of East Vancouver, Canada. It maintains a frequent presence in public spaces and the band actively supports local social and environmental wellness organizations, The Carnival Band is a part of the Activist Street Band movement, which is best known in the United States through the HONK! festivals.


The band has gone through many changes in structure and performance. With a floating membership of around 100 individuals playing sax, brass, percussion, and stringed instruments, it has appeared both as a mobile unit for parades, and as an amplified band with bass, fiddle, guitar, and banjo.


A spontaneous performance in London, England, led to the "internet phenomenon" of Traffic Wardens Need Love, created about a video on YouTube (filmed by friends of Rainbow George Weiss) of the Carnival Band serenading traffic wardens.

In order to maintain The Carnival Band's community band focus and format, members of the band formed a board and incorporated as a not-for-profit society under the name The Open Air Orchestra Society. Incorporation was granted on December 7, 2007.


In the spring of 2008, the Open Air Orchestra Society began exercising its new mandate by hosting regular workshops which were free, open to the public, and led by some of Vancouver’s top Latin and African percussionists. The society also organized and sponsored two trips for the Carnival Band: to the first annual Honk Fest West in Seattle, and to Artopia and Seafest, two festivals held in the northern coastal islands of British Columbia. A community choir, “Voice Mob” and samba dance group, “The Carnival Band Dancers” also became active as performance troupes under the society umbrella.


The band played went on two international festivals Honk Fest West (Seattle, WA) and Honk! (Boston, MA) and two local festivals, Gibson's Jazz Festival and Vancouver Folk Music Festival. We also hosted our own 10 year birthday festival, DecaDance which featured The Carnival Band, The Yellow Hat Band, Orkestar Slivovica and Knifey-Spoony.


2010 was a big year for the band. Vancouver hosted the 2010 Olympics and The Carnival Band came out to support a number of causes including The Poverty Olympics, The Welcoming Committee, an event at the Vancouver Art Gallery to advocate for social and environmental justice as well as the Tent City Party where many Vancouver residents acted to draw attention to the issues of homelessness in our city. The band also performed for the Place de la Francophonie on Granville Island on many dates spanning the two weeks of the Olympics. At the Place de la Francophonie, they had to opportunity to collaborate with Big Nazo from Providence, Rhode Island. The band also collaborated with othersover the course of the Olympics, including the activists, the Bright Lights Project and the City of Vancouver's celebration to acknowledge the contribution of artists, fabricators and other contributors.

The band also hosted its first (and only) 12 hour long "buskathon" at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Honk Fest West (Seattle, WA) invited the band to return again to play their festival in April. The band also made another island tour, making their way to Salt Spring Island for the first time.


The Carnival band playing at Honk Fest West, Seattle, Washington, 2014

Regularly appearing at numerous peace marches, Critical Mass rides, Vancouver's Chinese New Year parades, Illuminares, and Parade of the Lost Souls, the Carnival Band has also performed at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Gibsons Jazz Festival, Altonale in Hamburg, Germany, the Blaydon Races and the International Street Band Festival hosted by the Tenth Avenue Band in Newcastle, with the Baybeat Streetband in Morecambe, the Vancouver Sun Run, the Vancouver Children's Festival, and many other festivals, weddings, funerals, community related events, clubs, and parties in and around British Columbia.

In October 2006, the Carnival Band traveled to Honk! Fest, in Somerville, Massachusetts, performing with groups such as the Hungry March Band and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra.

As part of 2007上海-浦东国际音乐嘉年华 (the 2007 Shanghai Pudong International Music Carnival), the Carnival Band performed during the Labour Day Golden Week, in Century Park over the first week of May, in Shanghai, China.

The summer 2007 tour through Europe included performances at Altonale in Hamburg, Germany, Haizetara, in Amorebieta-Etxano, Biscay, the Basque Country (Spain), and Le festival des fanfares de Montpellier in Montpellier, France.

In March 2008, the band participated in the first annual Honk Fest West in Seattle, Washington. The three-day convocation of alternative street bands from around the U.S. was celebrated with performances in the Ballard and Georgetown neighborhoods, as well as workshops and the exchanging of ideas regarding musicianship, performance, and cultural and political advocacy.

The Band returned to Honk Fest West in Seattle in 2009 and 2010 as well as to the original Honk! Festival in Somerville, Massachusetts.


Songs performed by the group include originals by Musical Directors Ross Barrett and Tim Sars, as well as traditionals from Colombia, France, Suriname, Afghanistan, and Bulgaria, and a few standards.


Coverage of the Carnival Band has appeared in the Ubyssey ( March 17, 2009), Vancouver Sun, the Province, the Georgia Straight, the Vancouver Courier, various small publications in and around the Lower Mainland, and the Boston Phoenix (appearing at Harvard Square Oktoberfest).

The February 2006 issue of Spin magazine featured a several page article by Caryn Ganz on the Extra Action Marching Band, noting " there are several artsy-oriented cities with envelope-pushing groups like them. In addition to New York's Hungry March Band, there are Portland, Oregon's March Forth [sic] Marching Band, Seattle's Infernal Noise Brigade, and the Carnival Band in Vancouver, all viewed by Extra Action as kindred spirits."

When the Carnival Band performed in Shanghai, an article in the May 2 edition of 新民晚报 (the Xinmin Evening News) about the Shanghai Pudong International Music Carnival mentioned the band's entertaining performance and colourful costumes.


The band continues to gather new members, build strength as a community, support local initiatives, and have a lot of fun.

The Open Air Orchestra Society will strive to fill the city with live, original, accessible music by building on the momentum of The Carnival Band to include other bands, choirs, and performance troupes under its umbrella. These groups will mirror The Carnival Band's vision of inclusiveness, empowerment, and generosity.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]