HONK! Fest 2010 Brings Activist Marching Bands To Somerville And Cambridge
Somerville, MA - Davis Square is pretty funky under normal circumstances. Over the years, the influence (and confluence) of students from nearby Tufts and Harvard and MIT, along with Somerville city officials, has transformed the Square and environs into a must visit destination.
Photos by Diana Mai. Copyright 2010 Diana Mai.
Older members of the community, it should be noted, have not always been happy with the pace and outcome of development and 'town-gown' relations have been tense sometimes.
But for three days in October, for the past five years, most "townies" and quite a few people from Boston and other foreign cities have put aside their differences and celebrated music and activism (and commerce) by participating in the annual HONK Festival of activist marching bands.
I say "participate" because even those spectators who don't play a sousaphone or sax, bass drum or bass trombone (meaning most people), can't help but become absorbed in the driving, rhythmic music of a marching band.
The Festival has always been free, but local merchants must view the all-day Saturday HONK Fest as something of a "Black Friday" day after Thanksgiving type bonanza given all the refreshment seeking visitors jamming the square for more than nine hours.
It's organized chaos, to be honest. At any given time, five or more bands are playing at various locations around the square. Because the performers are situated down side streets or behind the MBTA station, or in Statue Park, listeners can concentrate on one great brass band at a time.
This year, the musical groups came from as far away as Oakland, CA (Brass Liberation Band) and Austin, TX (Minor Mishap Marching Band) to name just a few. Brooklyn's own Rude Mechanical Orchestra once again brought their contingent of brass (three sousaphones), drums, woodwinds, and what must be a company of dancers to rival 'A Chorus Line.'
Local outfits that continued to amaze audiences included The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band and the Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band.
For more information (and a reminder of what's to come next October), check out the HONK website.
--Dave Goodman (OMB Staff)
OMB Audio: A brilliant audio feature on the 2010 HONK! Festival by OMB Correspondent Chuck U. Rosina.(9:20)