Honk! Festival Hits the Streets of Somerville in October

Dozens of bands from around the world will be blasting music from every block.

There will be banging, there will be singing, and there will be dancing in the streets. On Friday, October 10, the ninth annual Honk! Festival, a coming together of drums, brass bands, and varied musical stylings is making its triumphant return, and taking over parts of Somerville, Boston, and Cambridge for an entire weekend.

For this year’s event, musicians will come from as far as Moscow, Paris, and New Orleans, and as near as Davis Square, according to organizers, all of them adding their unique twist to a three-day soiree where the sounds of unplugged instruments flood the streets from block to block, letting attendees experience a celebration unique to the area.

“We will transform Davis Square into a raucous spectacle, a playground of sousaphones and saxophones, marching drums and slide trombones, stilt walkers and flag twirlers, gigantic puppets and tiny dancers, until everyone is smiling, clapping, and boogieing to the grooves of our one-of-a-kind homegrown festival,” organizers said.

Honk! will begin October 10 with a “Day of Action” in Downtown Boston, a special event that’s new to this year’s festival, where bands will be pairing up with activist groups to call attention to certain causes, so they can deliver an extra loud message to the crowds of people showing up to experience the outdoor party.

“Imagine your political message enhanced by colorful marching bands, gigantic puppets, creative bikers, dancers, jugglers, hoopers, flag twirlers, and stilt walkers. We bring the party; you bring the crowd,” Honk! organizers said on their website. “Together, we hope to help you grow your following and raise awareness of your cause, and also learn more about how street bands can work with progressive organizations to create political actions that make a difference.”

On Saturday, the festivities will march on with 27 bands performing for free in designated spots and venues all around Somerville. The weekend bash of blasting brass instruments and bass drums will conclude Sunday with the “Reclaim the Streets for Horns, Bikes, and Feet” parade, which begins in Davis Square, travels down Elm Street toward Massachusetts Avenue, and ends in Harvard Square, where the annual Oktoberfest will be in full swing. Once in Cambridge, select bands will perform on smaller stages at that festival, which features beer gardens, art performances, and independent merchants.

This year, Honk! organizers were able to raise more than $15,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to help offset some of the costs to bring in acts from different parts of the world.

Below is the full list of bands that will be appearing at this year’s Honk! Festival. The schedule and location for each band will be released after October 3, according to organizers:

Artesian Rumble Arkestra (Olympia, WA)

AfroBrazil (Boston)

The Brass Balagan (Burlington, VT)

The Bread & Puppet Circus Band (Glover, VT)

Caka!ak Thunder (Greensboro, NC)

The Carnival Band (Vancouver, BC)

Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble (Montreal, QC)

Chaotic Noise Marching Corps (Seattle, WA)

Dirty Water Brass Band (Somerville)

Emperor Nortons Stationary Marching Band (Somerville)

Environmental Encroachment (Chicago, IL)

The Expandable Brass Band (Northampton)

Extraordinary Rendition Band (Providence, RI)

Forward! Marching Band (Madison, WI)

The Hill Stompers (Los Alamos, NM)

Himalayas (New York City, NY)

Leftist Marching Band (Portsmouth, NH)

Les Muses Tanguent (Paris, France)

Minor Mishap Marching Band (Austin, TX)

Pakava It (Moscow, Russia)

The Party Band ( Lowell)

Red Flame Hunters (New Orleans)

Rude Mechanical Orchestra (New York City, NY)

Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band (Somerville)

Seed & Feed Marching Abominable (Atlanta, GA)

Veveritse (Brooklyn, NY)

What Cheer? Brigade (Providence, RI)


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com


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