1903 : Scottville Clown Band

When:
October 14, 2020 all-day
2020-10-14T00:00:00-04:00
2020-10-15T00:00:00-04:00

MI Parade 9 Scottville Clown Band_1744acsThe World Famous Scottville Clown Band!

Since 1903, those famous clowns from Scottville, Michigan have been entertaining millions of music lovers throughout the state.   (In case you are wondering, the city of Scottville is located in Mason County, 7 miles east of Ludington. Scottville is a friendly little town of about 1,200.)

Officially called the Scottville Clown Band,  they are also sometimes referred to as “The Big Noise from Scottville”.   Known for its colorful attire and crazy antics, they also like to perform catchy tunes like “The Stripper”.  It really gets the crowd on their feet.

The band members come from all over Michigan and over 14 other states, from California, Tennessee, Florida and even New York. The members are a very diverse group, some doctors, firemen, police officers, bankers, and realtors. This hilarious group of very talented musicians come together many times throughout the year to share this passion for entertaining crowds and travel all over Michigan to strut their stuff.

 

The Clown Band’s roots date back to the start of the 1900’s when a musical group of Scottville merchants began to dress as hillbillies and entertained at local carnivals. Soon the group became more and more popular and the costumes became more and more risqué. World War II meant many hometown men went off to war; it also meant the end of the band.

In 1947, Scottville merchant Ray Schulte reformed the group and created what is still known as the Scottville Clown Band. “It’s one of the highlights of my life,” said Schulte about re-organizing the group. “It’s one of the greatest organizations to come to Scottville.” Ray was known at “The Godfather” of the Band and he passed in 2007.

 

Years ago, they were considered for participation by organizers of the annual Rose Bowl parade in California. “We gave them a demo film of us, and they said perhaps not,” Wilson said, laughing. “They were a little taken aback by that. There’s a few guys in the band that dress in drag, and back then it was a little too much.”

Since then, the band has grown into an all-volunteer organization that awards thousands of dollars in scholarships to music students every year. There’s also an underlying, almost fraternal aspect to it, like the Elks or the Moose Lodge: Generations of fathers share traditions with their sons during long bus rides, all-weather performances and daylong vacations in towns that dot the state, and where sons aspire to join their dads’ crazy band.

Applicants to join the band have to be sponsored by a member, and they must be experienced musicians. Almost everyone in the group played in high school or college band. And they’ve got hundreds of songs in their set list.  There are a lot of fathers and sons in the band (particularly since you have to be sponsored).

The band’s most revered event, they say, is the annual trip to Mackinac Island for the performance in the Lilac Festival, which falls close to Father’s Day and has become a father-son tradition. Many band members can’t make all the shows. But with lots of fathers and sons in the group, most try to make it to this one.

 

 

Believe it or not, the Clown Band is a corporation. The members are represented by a board of directors. In ways of charity, the Band helped fund, build and maintain the Scottville band shell, funded, built and maintains the Museum of Music at White Pine Village, funds the annual Raymond J. Schulte/George F. Wilson scholarship at West Shore Community College, funds the Bud Simms Memorial Grant and grants thousands of dollars in scholarships for education in music and the performing arts through the Raymond J. Schulte Music Scholarship Fund.

The Scottville Clown Band, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Donations to the Scottville Clown Band are tax deductable and can be made by sending a check made payable to The Scottville Clown Band, Inc and mailed to:

Rob Alway
Treasurer-Scottville Clown Band, Inc
405 N Main
Scottville MI 49454

Sources :

The Scottville Clown Band (web site)

John Carlisle, “Bawdy Scottville Clown Band shocks, then awes“, Detroit Free Press, July 17, 2016.