HONK! Festival: 14th Annual Festival of Activist Street Bands

New to this year’s HONK! are three out of towners, plus a newly formed local youth band.

October 11 through 13, 2019

a wide variety of musical / activist events planned in Somerville, Cambridge, Boston


(Somerville, MA) The very first HONK! Festival, Somerville-based and fourteen years strong, has always been clear on its most basic premise, to literally blast out, musically loud and rhythmically clear, a call to come together. To gather outside in celebrating the many positive aspects of life – while also delivering a heads up if those positives take a negative turn.

HONK! is dedicated to keeping tabs on these transitions, be it locally or globally, with the shifts now coming at a rapid rate. In HONK!’s mind, the best way to stay grounded is to take a stand, get out there with musical instruments in hand, or just clap those hands, and carry on in peace with a beat and a dance step or two. That activist philosophy has certainly caught on, with HONK!s now popping up throughout the world. At last count, twenty-one HONK! Festivals.

In that spirit of solidarity, this year HONK! has invited, among all the bands participating, four new bands to join in the festivities, three of which are coming from afar, and one from right in our own backyard:

Bolschewistische Kurkapelle Schwarz-Rot: formed in East Berlin in 1986, the band sees themselves as “the vanguard of a revolutionary orchestral movement,” spreading their political statement in “the form of music to educate the mind as well as to shake the booty.” http://www.bolschewistischekurkapelle.org/

Clamor & Lace Noise Brigade: based in Chicago, the band strives to bring music, written and/or performed by people identifying as women or non-binary, to the forefront of their city’s music scene. Established in 2018, Clamor & Lace is open to musicians and performers of all skill levels, and all members are encouraged to bring their own arrangements and/or original songs to the band. The band is committed to its progressive values and frequently performs in support of them. http://clamorandlace.com

Fanfarra Feminina Sagrada Profana: making their debut in 2017 in the streets of Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais, Brazil), the band is focused on performing music created by women composers and performers, or performing compositions that honor and exalt women, while also combining that with rhythms derived from their own popular culture. The band’s aim is to give voice to women by way of music and art, and to raise awareness of women’s continuous struggles for gender equality and emancipation. http://www.facebook.com/fanfarrasagradaprofana

Summer Street Brass Band: formed last year and comprised of local youth, the band performs popular jazz, funk, and latin tunes in a variety of Boston-area settings, from ceremonial gatherings to community and other social events. The band enjoys a joke and a laugh, but when it comes down to playing “we take it seriously.” https://www.summerstreetbrassband.org/

This year’s HONK! includes all the features that have compelled many to
return year after year:

  • on HONK! Friday early evening, Lantern Parades throughout Davis Square neighborhoods;
  • on HONK! Saturday afternoon to evening, continuous HONK! band performances held in Davis Square;
  • on HONK! Sunday early afternoon, the venerable HONK! Parade down Massachusetts Avenue from Davis Square to Harvard Square, in order to “Reclaim the Streets for Horns, Bikes, and Feet.” The Parade will include this year’s participating bands plus many activist community groups.
  • on HONK! Sunday afternoon, the Parade will be followed by a HONK! mainstage featuring quick sets performed by many of the participating bands. The Parade will also be followed by an opportunity to participate in several new “sharing” workshops, a departure from what has been part of the regular Sunday schedule;
  • on HONK! Sunday early evening, a collective HONK! call-to-action, by visiting musicians and bands, that will take place outside the immigration detention center in Boston, to raise awareness about those who are being detained there, and to remind the detainees with music, that they have not been forgotten by many in the outside world.

There are also several new or newly re-visited HONK! initiatives, such as:

  • an All HONK! Band Revue to be held on HONK! Friday evening in Union Square’s Bow Market;
  • a HONK! Pick-up Band, back by popular demand, this year called HOOT, for those music makers who are not affiliated with any bands performing at this year’s HONK! Or are, and can also somehow manage to dive into this as well. The “interest form” can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/HOOTPickUpBand2019
  • new workshops to be held on HONK! Sunday afternoon, soon after the Parade arrives in Harvard Square: a series of “Skill Sharing” workshops and a massive “Song Sharing” workshop. These gatherings will be led by members of participating bands, and the public is welcome to join in as well.

For complete information and continuous updates on the HONK! Festival, visit www.honkfest.org, www.facebook.com/honkfestival, and www.twitter.com/honkfest.