Tramps Like Them

As a musical group, the Original Hobo Band is known as much for its colorfully mismatched uniforms as for its lively performances.

When the Gloucester County–based ensemble was formed in 1946, its members couldn’t afford to buy uniforms, and most couldn’t fit into the clothes they’d worn before World War II. When band members donned mismatched outfits for a performance at a Halloween parade, a local newspaper likened them to a bunch of hobos. The name stuck, and today the band wears it proudly. “When we started, we never thought it would last this long,” says trumpet player Ralph Miller, 87, the band’s lone charter member.

The 80-piece ensemble performs a repertoire of Broadway tunes, patriotic songs, light classics, and marching music, says band director Sig Johnson. With performances along the East Coast and two trips to Europe, the band has come a long way since it received $25 for its first paying job in Mullica Hill 60 years ago.

What’s next for the band? Says Johnson, “Our goal is to keep going.”

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