The Bad Cactus Brass Band is a New Orleans Second Line street jazz band based in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded by sousaphonist Benjie Messer, their members include many of the fieriest jazz musicians in the Phoenix area.
Their repertoire includes original dance music, funky street beats, traditional dixieland, gospel and swing, and pop songs reinterpreted with a brass band sound. Powered by tuba, drums, trumpets, saxophones, and trombones, the Bad Cactus Brass Band brings a Mardi Gras energy to street corners, festivals, parties, nightclubs, weddings, and funerals.
Bad Cactus Brass Band burst onto the Phoenix scene in 2009, and within a year their distinctive take on New Orleans jazz and funk had become a prominent voice of the city. Their joyful energy and second line traditions have graced many of the area's biggest festivals, including Phoenix's Fabulous Fourth of July, Tempe's Fiesta Bowl Block Party, Tempe Oktoberfest, Glendale Glitters, the Scottsdale Arts Festival, the Desert Botanical Garden's Luminaria Nights, and free summer concert series put on by both the Scottsdale and Chandler Centers for the Arts. They have have been featured on radio and television, and have marched in the Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts and the Phoenix Saint Patrick's Day Parade. Their performances at charitable events have been sponsored by corporate giving programs of Phoenix's most successful companies. They worked with the Downtown Phoenix Partnership to found the Downtown Phoenix Mardi Gras Parade and Festival in 2011, and have provided entertainment for many of the Valley's other Mardi Gras-themed events.
Always on the lookout for new experiences, Bad Cactus Bass Band has performed at elementary schools, picnics, churches, theaters, pep rallies, talent shows, farmers markets, ASU fairs, fraternity parties, pub crawls, block parties, house parties, nightclubs, Chinese restaurants, burlesque shows, weddings, Suns games, casino nights, benefit and charity concerts, Christmas tree lightings, grand openings, corporate luncheons, industry expos, anniversaries, senior centers, and funerals. They have appeared at German events as a polka band, at Jewish events as a klezmer band, and at the Phoenix ComiCon as the world's first New Orleans-style chiptune band. They have performed on street corners, on the light rail, on escalators and in elevators, in record stores and libraries. Musical guerillas, they have paraded uninvited into clubs, stores, and several breakfast establishments before 6:00 AM.
Bad Cactus Brass Band has released two albums, Arizona Mardi Gras and Christmas Cactus. They have toured as far as Moab, Utah, and have opened for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, as well as many of Arizona's most exciting young bands, including Dry River Yacht Club, Captain Squeegee, and the Sugar Thieves.