About The Band
The Denville String Band is a New Jersey band that entertains at concerts and parades in the tradition of the Philadelphia Mummers. It is not a bluegrass or old-timey band as some assume when they hear the name but a genuine marching and concert band. The Philadelphia Mummers call their bands "string bands" too.
Mummers string bands originated in Philadelphia in the early 1900s. The practice has continued continuously since then with the annual parade on New Years day in Philadelphia in which thousands of Mummers march through the city. The parade is now sponsored by the city of Philadelphia. Most of the participants are in spectacular costumes, but only a fraction are "string bands" whose marchers play instruments. The parade's spectators look forward to hearing the 18 or so Philadelphia-area string bands. The combination of saxophones, banjos, accordions and glockenspiel is a distinctive feature of these string bands and their unforgettable sound.
The Denville String Band was founded in 1951 in Denville NJ by a few musicians who moved here from Pennsylvania and did not want to give up the enjoyment of playing Mummers-style string band music. They began by playing in the neighborhood, and marching in parades throughout the local area. The Band has operated continuously ever since then.
The Band performs at 10-15 local parades each year. Most are scheduled around holidays of St Patricks Day, Memorial Day, Independance Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. In addition to parades, the Band plays 15-30 concerts each year all over Nortern New Jersey at various indoor and outdoor venues, both public and private.
In parades, the Band's costumes have sequins and bright colors. It is led by a Captain in the most elaborate costume who prances out front, exciting the crowd. The Captain and select band members wear large feather "back pieces" to create an impressive appearance. The Band's costumes, which would be incredibly costly if bought new, are purchased at a discount from Philadelphia bands who no longer need them.
For concerts, the Band is clad in its signature black logo shirts and khaki pants.
The Band's musical arrangements are complex with multiple parts for multiple instruments, written especially for the Philadelphia Mummers bands. Our music books, one for each instrument, have over 200 songs in them.
Although the Band is well paid for it's performances, the musicians are non-professionals and unpaid. They vary in age (from high-school thru retirement) and playing ability. Some members fill important roles in managing the club house and truck, or helping to maintain our parade uniforms and props. All members do it for the enjoyment of participating in a fun organization that makes music and entertains people.
The Denvvile String Band supports itself primarily by fees from its performances. It is a New Jersey non-profit corporation and a Federal 501(c)(3) non-proft organization and accepts tax-exempt donations.
Since 1954, the Band has owned its own building at 10 Station Rd in Denville where it rehearses, stores equipment and instruments, and socializes. The Band also owns it's own truck emblazed with its distinctive crossed banjo & saxophone logo. The truck is used for tranporting costumes and equipment to events.
The Band is available for public and private performances. To inquire about engaging it, contact the Business Manager listed on the Contact Us page.