You might agree that a summer vacation would not be complete without the annual trip to downtown Charlottetown to witness PEI’s largest parade, The Gold Cup Parade. You might also argue that the most anticipated entry is Charlottetown’s Community Clash Band.
The notion of a community marching band was the brainchild of two musicians, Rowan FitzGerald and Frank McKearney. Their goal in the summer of 1988 was to create a band of high musical calibre without the usual constraints of the more formal marching bands. Through their connections, the band was originally founded by recruiting players from the PEI Regimental Band, the Confederation Centre Pit Orchestra, and from the community.
The main challenge of putting such a band together was not the music—although the marches were traditional and challenging military fare, the players handled them with ease—but, to get these players to move their feet in straight lines at the same time as playing the music . In other words, marching. Both Rowan and Frank agreed that the easiest way to solve that problem was to toss out the traditional marching band formations and their uniforms. Participants were encouraged to wear costumes with the most outrageous colours and patterns, the brighter the better. The “inexperienced marchers” minds were put at ease when they realized that no one cared what the marching looked like, as long as the band started and stopped (marching and playing) at the same time. After observing the first edition of the band, music colleague Roger Jabbour dubbed the colourful hodgepodge the Charlottetown Community Clash.
Since 1988, musicians from across PEI and Atlantic Canada have reunited to rehearse, socialize, and share their love of music in what is now simply referred to as the Clash Band. The band was originally composed almost entirely of professional musicians. While the Regimental Band still represents the core of the band, it now comprises musicians of all ages, and professions. There have been between 40 and 70 people on parade each year, whose ages range from 15 to 80.
— Submitted by Kelley Carpenter