We can’t quite believe it. There are now 21 HONK! Festivals around the world: five in Brazil, two in Australia, two in Canada, one in Costa Rica, one just starting in London, and the rest in the United States. But it all started in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 2006, at the first HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands, and it’s coming your way again this fall on October 11 – 13!
For the fourteenth year in a row, Somerville will open its homes, its businesses, its streets, and its heart to hundreds of activist street musicians from across the country and around the globe. We’ll celebrate the sound and spectacle of more than two dozen brass and percussion bands who revel in participatory music-making and supporting righteous social causes. Our invitation to you is the same as always: Join us for the music, make some art, march in the parade, build community, and stand up for social justice — all for free.
Our Festival this year will include all the features that have compelled thousands of participants to return year after year — Friday’s family friendly Lantern Parades through the neighborhoods of Somerville on Friday; continuous free performances by dozens of HONK! bands all day in Davis Square on Saturday; and the the venerable Sunday HONK! Parade down Massachusetts Avenue to "Reclaim the Streets for Horns, Bikes and Feet.” In addition, there will be political themes, actions, and performances throughout the Festival. And, of course, we will continue to maintain our focus on outrageous and unruly brass bands and percussion ensembles, irresistible music, and dancing in the streets.
To make sure there is enough music and politics for everyone, we have once again invited more than two dozen bands to the Festival. Some will be the bands that have become HONK! mainstays, whose music you have enjoyed for years. And, as always, we have also added something new to expand our horizons and whet the appetite for a greater diversity of street band sounds.
Because of HONK!’s international expansion, we have journeyed east to Europe and south to the equator to bring two international bands:
From Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Fanfarra Feminina Sagrada Profana has performed at HONK!-Rio and we are pleased to announce that they will be joining us for the first time in Somerville. This ensemble of women of different social classes, ages, sexual identities, races and musical backgrounds, comprises not only musicians, but also dancers, singers, and circuses artists, who combine their arts for a common purpose. Their repertoire features Minas Gerais music and they have participated in several political and social movements in their home country. They have recently taken up the task of organizing their own HONK! festival in Belo Horizonte.
From East Berlin, Die Bolschewistische Kurkapelle Schwarz-Rot – or as we call them, Black-Red – are an eclectic, diverse group of musicians, some of whom have been with the band since its inception in 1986, back when East Germany was a country. They participated in, and still have a voice in, keeping alive , the political and musical traditions of the anti-fascist movement. As such, they see themselves as the vanguard of a revolutionary orchestral movement, making a political statement through music to educate the mind as well as shake the booty.
Because of our deep commitment to the music and culture of New Orleans we are pleased to welcome a reconstituted Young Fellaz brass band back to the festival after a few years away. They will bring their new repertoire of New Orleans funk to Somerville. HONK! fans should be prepared to be blown away by their talent and energy yet again.
We can pretty much guarantee that the energy at the HONK! Festival will be like nothing you have ever experienced before . . . that is, unless you have already been to a HONK! Festival. Participants report peak musical moments, inspiring political actions, and life-changing experiences.
Producing a festival like Somerville’s HONK! year after year requires the development of long-term relationships with dozens of volunteers, local businesses, city administrations, social service agencies, unions, neighborhood groups, and progressive political organizations. An all-volunteer Organizing Committee works crazy hours all year long to plan and coordinate every aspect of the Festival. Municipal and community leaders assist with logistics, permitting, and material support, local businesses donate food, neighbors share their homes with visiting musicians, and graphic designers, photographers, parade marshals, community organizers and many, many others volunteer their time and effort.
The same is true of the bands that come to HONK! — they don't get paid to perform — they play because they love the Festival. In return, we house and feed hundreds of musicians for three days. And we help to defray travel expenses for bands that travel from afar. As you might imagine, this can run up quite a tab. And because we are a non-profit organization, with a limited budget, we always have to stretch our resources to the limit to make HONK! Happen.
This is where you come in.
We need to raise $17,000 to insure that every band that wants to come to HONK! can make the journey. Every donation — your donation — will help.
Please act now and thank you for your generosity.
(video credit: Patrick Johnson)
Risks and challenges
If someone proposed creating a multi-day event where more than two dozen activist street bands would come to Somerville, perform on the streets for an entire day of free music, interact with community groups all around Boston, take part in our huge parade down a major thoroughfare ending with more performances at another street festival, join us for lantern parades at night in our neighborhoods and on and on, you might be a wee bit skeptical.
But this is exactly what we have done 13 years running and are prepared to do again. Thanks to a core group of volunteers who work crazy amounts of hours to organize things, a jaw-dropping amount of support by our community (including tremendous support from municipal and community leaders) and the fabulous people who make up the bands who come our way each year, we HONK!
So are there risks and challenges to this project? With an effort this size lots of things can happen. Logistical issues might prevent a band from attending, rain might make outdoor performances less pleasant and so on. But we've dealt with all of these things and more before (ask anyone who has joyously danced in the rain at HONK!) and we're confident we can do so again.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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