The Bells of Joe Trinacria

1963-jpg-bmpIt is always special when someone has done something well for a long time.  Mummery by nature respects tenure and accomplishment.  Joe Trinacria hits every note in the above description.

On New Year’s Day, 2013, Mr. Trinacria marked 50 years since he first marched with a String Band.  He is a legendary glockenspiel, or bells, player.  “The bells mean everything to the string band sound. It’s the signature sound,” says Joe. He adds, “When people heard the bells, they knew a string band was coming.”


A half a century of Mummers history flows through this Hall of Famer and former Captain of Uptown String Band.  One of Joe’s fondest memories is taking 3rd prize Captain in 1980 with Uptown. It was a Hawaiian theme.


His Mummers life is a travelogue of performances and parades. Often, his view was from deeper within the bands, where the percussion is often positioned.  He could see much of the show, but it was from the opposite view of fans.  He strutted briefly with Liberty Clowns in the early 1960’s, but would go on to explore string band sounds with Durning, Aqua, Joseph A. Ferko and Harrowgate. His spent 17 years with Uptown String Band, 9 years with Woodland and most recently has been with Greater Kensington String Band.

Funny thing about the bells for Joe is that playing them was more or less accidental. He had gone out to buy a2002 Christmas present for his nephew and wound up liking the “toy”.

From there a love affair with the bells began.  Joe does not read music.  He has a great ear and can bring out the life that is in the instrument.  His is not a “slap-hammer” style.  He tells me, “I know dynamics.”


Joe Trinacria is now 80 years of age and looks back at New Year’s Day from his home in Bensalem and sees great memories. He is one of the living historians of Mummery. He has untold stories of half a century of parading and living the Mummer tradition. Now, however, Joe looks forward with some uncertainty. Health issues make him concerned that more parades for him could be difficult.  But, doctors tell him playing the bells and strutting up Broad have done wonders for him. So, Joe, please keep playing and chart a course up Broad to see us “on the street” in 2014.  We’ll know you’re coming, when we hear the bells.

One Response

  1. We also agree. When we hear the bells we know Joe T. is here . There is such a warm feeling inside, he is a inspiration to all. At 80 and still going with 50 years of mummery. A great friend and aquiance to all who know him . What more could I say: “When you got it you got it.” Go J.T

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