The HONK! Festival blows into town

On October 4, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

And the brass will crash, and the trumpets bray, and they’ll cut a dash at HONK! Festival 2012. – Photo by Joseph Gresser

By Cathleen Twardzik

From October 4 to October 8, HONK! Festival 2012, which is the seventh annual festival of “socio-political activist street bands/variety of styles,” will take place in Somerville.

At least 34 activist street bands, all of whom hail from Somerville to Italy, will participate.

Among other bands, the festival will feature Dirty Water Brass Band of Somerville, the Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band of Somerville, and the Young Fellaz Brass Band of New Orleans, LA.

Almost all of the events are free, open to anyone whom is interested in attending, and will take place rain or shine, in or near Davis Square or Harvard Square. Events, for which tickets are required, are extremely affordable.

There will be outdoor concerts, an enormous parade, smaller processions and affordably priced indoor concerts, as well as symposiums in Somerville and Cambridge.

The festival’s 2012 schedule will include a plethora of activities, which is listed at

“The festival was started seven years ago [in Davis Square] by some members of a local Somerville-based ‘activist street band’ called the Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band,” said Ken Field, Member of the HONK! Organizing Committee, Saxophonist, Composer, Member of the Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society, Brass Band and Member and Leader of several additional bands.

“There was an interest in bringing together other similar bands, [all of whom] play primarily for social and political change, so 12 bands from around the country came to Boston to participate in the first HONK! Festival,” said Field.

Since it was established, HONK! has expanded. At present, “spin-off” HONK! Festivals in Austin, TX, Seattle, WA, Providence, RI and New York, NY, as well as additional cities, exist.

Prior to the festival, you may catch The Inside-Outside Gallery, which will occur 24 hours per day, from now through HONK! Festival weekend, at CVS Pharmacy in Davis Square. It will highlight the work of Ben Greenberg, Photographer, Mark Dannenhauer, Photographer and Jesse Edsell-Vetter, Photographer.

Additionally, on September 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m., the HONK! Volunteers and Parade Meeting was held at the Somerville Public Library, west branch.

On September 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. the HONK! Flatbread Pizza Benefit took place at Flatbread Company at 45 Day St. in Somerville. The restaurant donated part of the price of each pizza pie which was purchased that day to the HONK! Festival.

“I’m very psyched about the kick-off concert at Johnny D’s that I’m helping to organize [on] October 5 from 7:30 p.m. to [1 a.m.],” Field said.

Tickets for that kick-off event cost $12 for general admission, and are available at the door.  If you would like additional information, call (617) 776-2004, or visit

The Lantern Parade, which will be held on October 5 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. around Davis Square, will be of interest to children. Youngsters will also be delighted at HONK! in the Neighborhoods, which will showcase Somerville High School musicians in Union Square on October 5 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Based on last year’s festival, Field expects “thousands and thousands” of attendees at HONK! 2012.

The public is encouraged to suggest activities for future years’ festivals by sending any ideas to

For information about many of the events, interested individuals may call (617) 383-HONK (or 4665) or send an email to




7 Responses to “The HONK! Festival blows into town”

  1. Meme says:

    Supporter: City of Somerville.

    Your tax dollars going to gov’t approved “socio-political activist”

    Congrats. You are now forced, on threat of jail and house repossession, to support socio-political activities that you may or may not agree with.

    I love honk. Go every year and love it. Just sitting on the bike path and listening is great. But how can the mayor and his underlings justify supporting such obviously selective political activities, not to mention the legal requirements?

  2. Doug says:

    @Meme…is it rain or shine?

  3. Ron Newman says:

    Although this festival started out with financial support from the Somerville Arts Council, I don’t think the SAC is still involved with it.

  4. Betty Boop says:

    @Ron and Meme: also, the SAC is one of the few groups in the city that brings in more money than they receive from the city. That and HONK is a separate entity from the SAC, so I doubt any tax dollars are being spent on this, if anything it will generate revenue. I also don’t know how allowing a politically themed music festival will send people to jail or repossess homes, that’s quite a stretch. What is the alternative? Don’t allow free speech? You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill here, Meme.

  5. j. connelly says:

    Thanks Betty

    For pointing out that SAC has money..let them pay for the Police Officers and DPW workers…It will be Paovertime for the officers and overtime for the DPW guys..

    Oh & by the way Betty, the Police had to respond TWICE in the early a.m. (around 4:00 a.m?) for Honk participants who were standing outside where they are staying, by Franseca & College Ave as they were keeping the neighbors awake with their noise and the event hasn’t even happened yet..see Betty some people have to go to work in the daytime and need their sleep.

  6. Meme says:

    @ Ron: on the current list of supporters (both SAC and the city itself)

    @Betty: If SAC brings in more money then it gets from the city budget it should not force tax payers to fund it, and pay its own way via willing participants. If HONK! can generate its own revenue it does not need public funding any more then the 7-11 or a church requires public funding.

    Let me lay this out for you Betty. The city of Somerville will raise property taxes, claiming it is broke and would have to “cut to the bone” and “fire teachers, police and fire fighters”. If I or someone else cant pay higher property taxes the city will put a lien on my house. Try not paying your taxes. Whats the result?

    Yes, the support of HONK! is very minor, but is that really what we want our city to be spending money on, vs say education?

    “Don’t allow free speech” Where you pulling that one out of? I fully support you, me or anyone else spending their money on whatever they want, and will be throwing some money around at HONK!, but the city taking my personal spending away to shower it on selective pet projects is a reduction of free speech. When gov’t selects what is art via $ support we are not in a better position.

  7. Betty Boop says:

    Hat-ers. Must be rough living in Davis Square, want to trade homes?

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