The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable band celebrates its 50th anniversary in style

The energetic marching band, a staple of Atlanta's parades, emphasizes creativity and community over musical bona fides

The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable band turns 50
Seed & Feed is Atlanta’s funkiest marching band.

Photograph by Juliette Mansour

Marissa Rainey always wanted to play flute in a marching band, but the competitive one at her school didn’t seem like the right fit. Rainey’s mom, Meghan McCloskey, then told her about Seed & Feed Marching Abominable, an all-volunteer band that dresses in kooky costumes and marches in parades, parties, and Atlanta street fests. Rainey, now 15, immediately felt at home in the multigenerational group. “When I joined Seed & Feed, no one cared if I had bad intonation and couldn’t play high notes,” Rainey says. “They were just happy I was there.”

Seed & Feed Marching Abominable, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, has long been a home for Atlanta’s wunderkinds, weirdos, and whimsical musicians. It began in December 1974, when Kelly Morris grabbed his bass drum and invited a few musician friends over to Seed & Feed, his avant-garde theater. Henry Slack showed up to that first meeting, trombone in hand, and has been a loyal band member ever since. “I get to play fun and varied music, and throw antic energy out to the world,” he says.

The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable band celebrates its 50th anniversary in style
Seed & Feed performs during the Dragon Con parade

Photograph courtesy of Seed & Feed

The band’s signature event is the Inman Park Festival Parade, where they first performed in 1975. “Seed & Feed is such a great fit because we’re all freaks, friends, and neighbors,” says parade coordinator Karen Heim. The extravagantly costumed ensemble, featuring dozens of musicians and dancers, stands out in every parade. Last month, in honor of the band’s anniversary, the Inman Park Festival appointed them parade grand marshals.

Festivals and parades are Seed & Feed’s mainstay, but you can catch the band in any number of surprising places—including, recently, the High Museum. “We played for people waiting to get in and then went on all three floors of the atrium,” says Alicia Cardillo, tenor saxophonist and musical director. “I stood on a chair conducting from the ground level.”


Unexpected concerts like this are possible only because over 250 members appear in various configurations in the band’s 50-plus gigs a year. As many as 150 performers may show up for the Inman Park parade, but most smaller events feature around 30, and house parties as few as 10. The band’s flexibility for whatever members can offer has been key to its longevity. “We have great musicians, we have mediocre musicians—we don’t care,” says band manager Joann Cebulski, who dances in the band. “People may start as a ‘despicable’ [dancers and other nonmusicians] and then learn the tuba.”

The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable band celebrates its 50th anniversary in style

Photograph courtesy of Seed & Feed

Seed & Feed emphasizes creativity and community over musical bona fides. During the pandemic, they gathered for regular Zoom chats and supported struggling band members with a “fairy band mother” fund. At its core, Seed & Feed reminds everyone that life is meant to be fun. “My high school band director didn’t encourage me to wrap Christmas lights around my saxophone and wear sequins!” says baritone saxophonist Molly Brown.

Not only has Rainey, the teenage flutist, thrived in Seed & Feed, but her mom has also found a home with the band. McCloskey manages the band’s social media and dances alongside the musicians: “I can twirl a baton a little bit,” she says with a laugh. Mostly, she’s involved to bond with her daughter and watch her blossom. “She has a wonderful social circle in the band, which is funny considering she is 40 years younger than most of her band friends,” McCloskey says. “But now she has the confidence to march down Peachtree Street in front of 70,000 people while playing her flute.”

This article appears in our May 2024 issue.