The Middlesex Concert Band was originally know as the Red Men’s Band in Wakefield. The Improved Order of Red Men was a fraternal organization (other fraternal organizations include Freemasons, Elks, KofC, etc) founded by descendants of participants of the Boston Tea Party, and tracing its roots all the way back to 1765.
- 1765 – Sons of Liberty form and spread across the colonies
- 1773 – Boston group of Sons of Liberty trigger Boston Tea Party
- 1813 – “Society of Red Men” forms in Philadelphia, by former Sons of Liberty members
- 1834 – “The Improved Order of Red Men” founded in Baltimore
- 1887 – Red Men organized in Wakefield, tribe is unknown
- 1909 – “Wahpatuk Tribe” officially chartered in Wakefield
- ~1909 – Red Men’s Band forms as a Drum & Bugle Corp, rehearsal’s at “Borden Building” at Albion & Main
- 1943 – “Wigwam” at 33 West Water St (likely earlier, but this is the first record we can find)
- 1950s – Drum & Bugle Corp dies out, Parade Band formed, rehearsals at 33 West Water St
- 1974 – Red Men’s Band turns into Middlesex Concert Band, an independent organization
- 1974? – Rehearsals at Americal Civic Center
- 1976 – 33 W. Water St sold to real estate company (presumably Red Men ceased 74-76)
- 19xx – Rehearsals move to First Baptist Church
- 2018 – First Baptist Church burns down, rehearsals move to Reading Congregational Church
The original band, which had started a in the early 1900s, died out in the 1950s. A Drum & Bugle corp, the band was known for wearing Native American head dresses and was a staple of parades in Wakefield and 4th of July celebrations. They even regularly played at Braves baseball games.
“The original Wahpatuck Tribe 54, Improved Order of Red Men Band split up in the 1950s, according to newspaper reports. Its original drum was discovered in the basement of the Americal Civic Center in 1994 and has since been donated to the Wakefield Historical Society.” — Jayne D’Onofrio
That drum was most likely found in the MCB storage room at the Americal, where the band still performs today.
There are still many musicians in the Boston area who played with the Red Men’s band when they were younger. Several have found their way back to MCB as current members.
The below documentary includes first-hand history of the Red Men’s Band in Wakefield.
The Red Men still exist as an organization today, but MCB has no relationship with them. Many of the behaviors and activities of the Red Men described in historical articles are certainly inappropriate and unacceptable by today’s standards. It originally only allowed white men, and portrayed caricatures of Native Americans. As evidenced by the video above, even in the 1950s, it had evolved its thinking to not only allow Native Americans to join, but Native Americans had become leaders within the Red Men who embraced the head dresses and culture as a way to educate the public.