HONK! if you like social activism, reflective tights

On October 11, 2010, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

– Photos by Lauren Ostberg and Robert Davidson

By Lauren C. Ostberg

Somerville’s fifth annual HONK! Festival brought horn-centered bands, political activists, and anti-capitalist cheerleaders to Davis Square this weekend.  Though the sociopolitical message wasn’t always obvious – was the bull in the parade a depiction of the market?  What bearing do reflective leggings have on social justice? – it was a loud Columbus Day weekend of brass bands.

Originally conceived of as a way to protest the war in Iraq, HONK! has become a vehicle for drawing attention to numerous issues, including the local food movement, energy conservation, Tibet, and the economic crisis.

The 30 bands entertained local Boys and Girls Clubs on Friday night, converged on Davis for a six-hour public concert on Saturday afternoon, and took the show on the road for Sunday’s “Parade to Reclaim the Streets for Horns, Bikes, and Feet.” The party continued at Harvard Square’s Oktoberfest, and ended in a Davis Square blow-out.

HONK! is not solely an activist venue. It’s as much about the crowd’s participation and the musician’s delight in noise as it is anything else. Two Somerville brass band titles summarize the event’s ethos:  The Expandable Brass Band and the Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society.  HONK! is expandable; local musicians or rabble-rousers are encouraged to honk back or join the parade.

And the sparkling tights and show-tune sound bites fit the message if it’s as much about pleasure as it is social aid.


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