Red Men’s Band

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.

The original band, which had started in the early 1900s, died out and was re-formed 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.

Additional Reading:

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 may be inappropriate and unacceptable by today’s standards. It originally only allowed white men, and at times 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 they had become leaders who embraced the head dresses and culture as a way to educate the public.