What is HONK!?
Throughout the country and across the globe, a new type of street band movement is emerging — outrageous and inclusive, brass and brash, percussive and persuasive — reclaiming public space with a sound that is in your face and out of this world. Called everything from “avant-oompah!” to a “brassroots revolution,” these bands draw inspiration from sources as diverse as Klezmer, Balkan and Romani music, Brazilian Samba, Afrobeat and Highlife, Punk, Funk, and Hip Hop, as well as the New Orleans second line tradition, and deliver it with all the passion and spirit of Mardi Gras and Carnival.
Acoustic and mobile, these bands play at street level, usually for free, with no stages to elevate them above the crowd and no sound systems or speaker columns to separate performers from participants. These bands don’t just play for the people; they play among the people and invite them to join the fun. They are active, activist, and deeply engaged in their communities, at times alongside unions and grassroots groups in outright political protest, or in some form of community-building activity, routinely performing and conducting workshops for educational and social service organizations of all kinds.
At full power, these bands create an irresistible spectacle of creative movement and sonic self-expression directed at making the world a better place. This is the movement we call HONK!
Who is HONK!?
Since its founding, more than 50 bands have attended the HONK! Festival. You can see a full listing here! The all-volunteer organizing committee has been changing and growing since the festival began, benefiting from the talents and enthusiasm of many friends and colleagues. Right now, it is made up of John Bell, David Blank-Edelman, Trudi Cohen, Ken Field, Reebee Garofalo, Harris Gruman, Sara Honeywell, Maury Martin, Charlo Maurer, Cecily Miller, Deidra Montgomery, Eric Sutman, Renee Sutman, and Joanna Vouriotis.
But The HONK! Festival isn’t just the organizers and the musicians. It’s a grassroots, non-profit event made possible by the financial and in-kind support of a thousand local residents and businesses. For the duration of the Festival, more than 500 musicians will be housed by generous neighbors and friends and many local restaurants will generously provide food for the performers and volunteers. Scores of community members have donated hours of labor to make HONK! possible. Most significantly, none of the bands will be earning any money for the festival, and most will have only some of their travel expenses covered. The bands are inspired to travel great distances, at great personal expense, to joyously celebrate our hard work to reclaim public space—the world over—for all people. The bands long to connect in honor of our struggles for justice. We hope you will come, to connect and celebrate with us, and further the cause of freedom, justice and collective emancipation.
What is an Activist Band?