Honk! Turns 10: The Festival of Activist Street Bands Returns October 9-11
This year, we gave Honk!, Somerville’s annual “festival of activist street bands,” our award for Best Arts Festival. It’s also the loudest—both in its decibel level and its message of “brassroots revolution,” which has been so successful that Honk! has spread to New York, Seattle, and even Australia and Brazil.
And next weekend, they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary right here, as this tuba-and-trombone-filled spectacle returns on October 8-11. On Thursday, prime your eardrums at the October 8 “pre-Honk!” in Union Square and at Aeronaut Brewing Company, followed by a lantern parade through Davis Square over to Johnny D’s on Friday. The Davis Square takeover continues all day Saturday. Then Honk!’s top brass “reclaim the streets for horns, bikes, and feet” by marching from Somerville to Harvard Square, where they bring the “avant-oompah” to the neighborhood’s 37th Annual Oktoberfest festivities.
Of course, there’s message behind the merriment, as evinced by October 9’s “Day of Action,” described as one big jam session in which “bands convene to play on behalf of a cause,” an integral aspect of Honk!.
“Activism is a huge part of what brings our musicians together,” festival organizers wrote on their Kickstarter page, as part of a fundraising campaign that managed to raise $18,870, exceeding their goals and ensuring another year of consciousness-raising cacophony. “These bands know how to create outrageous and effective street actions that are fun and inspiring, using music and other forms of art and theater for political protests that amplify straight-talk messages and get the word out.”
For this year’s event, more than 25 bands have been confirmed. While plenty of them are local, like Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band, this horde of honktivists hails from all over the country—and even as far as France, in the case of Les Vilains Chicots.
Here’s the current lineup.
- Artesian Rumble Arkestra (Olympia, WA)
- AfroBrazil (Boston, MA)
- The Brass Balagan (Burlington, VT)
- The Bread and Puppet Circus Band (Glover, VT)
- Dead Music Capital Band (Austin, TX)
- Detroit Party Marching Band (Detroit, MI)
- Dirty Water Brass Band (Somerville, MA)
- DJA-Rara (Brooklyn, NY)
- Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band (Somerville, MA)
- Environmental Encroachment (Chicago, IL)
- Expandable Brass Band (Northampton, MA)
- Extraordinary Rendition Band (Providence, RI)
- Forward! Marching Band (Madison, WI)
- Gora Gora Orkestar (Boulder, CO)
- The Hill Stompers (Los Alamos, NM)
- Hungry March Band (Brooklyn, NY)
- Leftist Marching Band (Portsmouth, NH)
- Les Vilains Chicots (Paris, France)
- Minor Mishap Marching Band (Austin, TX)
- New Creations Brass Band (New Orleans, LA)
- Original Big Seven Social Aid & Pleasure Club (New Orleans, LA)
- The Party Band (Lowell, MA)
- Rude Mechanical Orchestra (New York City, NY)
- School of HONK (Somerville, MA)
- Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band (Somerville, MA)
- Ten Man Brass Band (Seattle, WA)
- tint(A)nar (Quebec City, QC)
Honk! Festival of Activist Street Bands: Free, October 9-11 (pre-Honk October 8), honkfest.org.