In 1976, young man Steve Sutherlin awoke from a dream believing that he could form a brass band that was mobile and “colorful.” As he set out to make his dream into a reality, he called upon his musically talented siblings and high school friends to form the group’s initial 9 band members. Their first few performances were in local Indianapolis shopping malls and parades. Shortly thereafter, Indianapolis-based businessmen and brothers Mel and Herb Simon (owners of Simon Property Group and over 500 shopping malls) heard about the Band. The Simons then engaged the clown band in flying to malls in various cities across the US to perform for grand opening celebrations.
When the Simon brothers purchased the Indiana Pacers basketball team in the 1983-84 season, The Circle City Sidewalk Stompers became their official pep-band performing inside and outside of Market Square Arena. Although Market Square Arena was replaced by Bankers Life Fieldhouse a few blocks to the south, the team retained the Circle City Sidewalk Stompers as their pep-band during both regular and post-season games. A few years later, the Indianapolis Colts football team hired the band to be the “12th Man Brass Band” during many years of Colts seasons. Along with the Pacers, Colts, and other area parades, fairs festivals, the band has been a featured and favorite act at the Indiana State Fair for over 40 years. And for the past 20 years, they have been a staple of the San Diego County Fair, performing their choreographed routine in up to 66 shows over 11 performance days. Including California, the band has played across the US in 19 states from Alaska to New York and overseas in Europe and Asia.
One of the band’s highlights each year since 1997 has been to perform at the Great American Brass Band Festival. Traveling from Indianapolis to beautiful Danville, Kentucky and playing for likely the most musically educated audience has been an honor and a privilege. This will be the band’s 22nd continuous year at the festival and it’s always a thrill. There are several days of concerts, military, Dixieland, jazz, and big band music and the clown band loves every minute of being a performer and audience member. Steve says, “Once the clown band hears ‘Danville Kentucky’ mentioned, that means Good Duty.” All new members are told, “Once you experience the Great American Brass Band Festival, you’ll be back for more the next year.”
Other exciting opportunities including performing at Carnival in Nice, France in 1996. The Circle City Sidewalk Stompers were chosen to represent the United States out of over 100 entries. Carnival in Nice, is akin to our Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The band performed in parades, on various stages, and traveled to Vidauvan to celebrate the city’s 150th year. They returned to Nice and participated in the night light parades. This was a spectacular event and nothing like anything they had ever experienced in the US.
In 2005, the group was invited to the International Music Festival in China. The event location surrounded a large lake in Century Park, Shanghai. Ten bands and performance groups were situated around the lake with a hundred-foot wide walkway. Each evening of the festival, and ten groups performed on a stage to an audience of approximately 20,000.
Once again, the band returned to China in 2011, but this time to the city of Jinan to perform for the grand opening of a fabulous mega-shopping mall named “Parc 66.” Chinese government dignitaries, local celebrities, and thousands of citizens were able to enjoy the clown band.
The Circle City Sidewalk Stompers have been playing music and delighting audiences young and old for 43 years. Although Steve is the only original band member left in the group, his son Bryan is carrying on the family tradition and performs with the band on the trumpet. Bryan hopes his two small children will inherit his family’s musical talents. They already love coming to watch the band at weekly rehearsals. Wanting to capture years of funny and a few serious stories, Steve currently is in the process of writing a book about the band, its experiences and travels. He says, “It has been my pleasure to work with such talented people who have given their own time and talents to this very special group.”
The Great American Brass Band Festival is wonderful proof that after high school and college, one can still participate in playing music, dancing, and enjoying the comradery of a professional band. The Circle City Sidewalk Stompers are honored to entertain the crowds in Danville, Ky. In addition, the band would love the opportunity to perform at your next festival, event, or parade. For more information about the band, go to www.clownband.com to contact Steve Sutherlin, write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (317) 696-4407.