Tin Horn Uprising: New Paltz’s Very Own Activist Band

According to their website, Tin Horn Uprising is looking for opportunities to support regional work and efforts of peace, justice, education and resistance.

Out of the increasingly murky political climate and ever-so-cleaving U.S. presidential election of 2016, came a shout into the void. And who answered such a call? Tin Horn Uprising, New Paltz’s very own activist marching band. 

They’re the cheerful group of instruments from brass to woodwind and percussion that light up nearly every festival, event and community meeting around town. Gracing the Hudson Valley with their talented presence, Tin Horn Uprising has made quite a name for themselves as you are bound to have heard them play at some point in New Paltz.

The idea of an activist street band was churning in the heads of a few Rosendale residents for a while, until late 2016 when it finally came to fruition. A meeting consisting of just four people drafted a vision statement, scheduled a rehearsal and hoped for the best. What they got was just that, as over 30 people showed up, solidifying the rise of Tin Horn Uprising. 

Where does that quirky name come from exactly? According to their website, “In 1839, Hudson Valley farmers organizing for land rights picked up their tin dinner horns and blew them as a call to political action; when a dinner horn was sounded the community gathered in support of whichever neighbor was under siege. And thus the Tin Horn Rebellion was born. We derive our band name from that spirit.” 

That spirit and energy is put into their demand for social justice as they perform at rallies, marches and all kinds of events of varying issues. Tin Horn Uprising aims to promote peace, equality, justice, education and environmental protection. 

“We strive for a spirit of joy, togetherness and solidarity with the individuals, communities and movements we support,” said co-founder of Tin Horn Uprising and trumpet player Scott Langley. “Committed to the practice of nonviolent resistance, we aim to be a safe, welcoming and empowering community for all people and all musical skill levels. Our music is selected by democratic processes and reflects our collective values and experiences.”

The idea of an activist marching band is not new, however. There are many major cities that are home to similar groups, from Detroit, to Oakland, to Austin, to New York City, Boston and so on, which makes the existence of one right here in the humble Hudson Valley so special. 

“The idea is to bring music and energy into the streets with brass, percussion, theater, puppets, dance and more—not just to entertain, but bring a creative, musical spirit to progressive and activist events in order to support the causes we believe in,” Langley said.

The types of songs Tin Horn plays are traditional, national and international protest songs. Some of these include “We Shall Overcome,” “Get Up Stand Up,” “Bell Ciao,” “Down by the Riverside” and  “Which Side Are You On.” 

While they do not hold events of their own, Tin Horn Uprising is constantly being asked by other event organizers to attend and perform. Next time you’re out and about in town on a festive day, you might spot them!