Monday, July 22, 2024

The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band. (Photo: Honk!)

The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band is gearing up for a celebratory transformation Sunday. The band, which was formed in 2003 during antiwar protests, is holding a name change ceremony from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at at Lou Ann David Park in Somerville, 1060 Broadway. The event, which is set to include former and current members, aims to commemorate the band’s 20th anniversary with music and birthday cake.

The name change will be in place by the time the band takes part in the next Honk! Festival of Activist Street Bands, set for Oct. 6-8 in Somerville, Cambridge and Boston. A schedule of free in-person outdoor festival events will be available soon after Labor Day weekend, publicist Mary Curtin said.(Update on Aug, 28, 2023: The name of the band has become The Good Trouble Brass Band, after the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a civil rights icon who popularized the phrase “good trouble.”)

The origins of the band and festival are linked.

In 2003, a group of musicians joined forces with the Bread and Puppet Theater of Vermont for a Boston antiwar parade. “After one march in particular, we thought ‘This is really exciting, why don’t we stick together.’ That was the beginning,” said Trudi Cohen, one of the band’s founding members, in a 2014 oral history of the Honk! festival by WBUR. The decision to stay together laid the groundwork for what would become The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band.

After a few years, the band began to explore the broader landscape of activist music, seeking out like-minded groups such as the Hungry March Band and the Brass Liberation Orchestra, which led to the formation of the Honk! festival in 2006. “We just sort of sent out this message: ‘Would you like to get together and have some sort of convergence of activist bands?’ And we got a very positive response,” Cohen told WBUR.

The festival brings together street bands from around the world and serves as a platform for musicians to blend their talents with social and political causes. It’s grown from the first year with 12 bands into an annual, international tradition, and usually includes a march to Cambridge’s Harvard for Oktoberfest.

But the band that started it all will perform under a different name,

“Our music is strongly dominated by New Orleans jazz, both traditional Second Line street music and newer New Orleans funk tunes,” Cohen said last week. “The impetus came mostly from newer members of the band, with several compelling reasons: one, the sentiment that it sounded like we were claiming a genre – second line – that didn’t belong to us; another, that although we’ve been inspired by the idea of social aid and pleasure clubs, a New Orleans benevolent mutual aid institution, we are different in the way we approach social aid.”

The new is a secret until the Lou Ann David Park event Sunday.

“We chose a new name that comes from a social justice hero from the civil rights movement.” Cohen said.