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Marching Bands Take to the Street to HONK! This Weekend

Posted by Alex Pearlman  September 30, 2011 08:12 AM

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band-wcb.jpgWhat do you get when you mix 27 activist marching bands, giant puppets, costumed revelers, and two of Boston’s chillest neighborhoods? One word: HONK!

The sixth annual HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands takes over Davis and Harvard Squares today through Monday with the grooviest, danciest, most life-affirming block party this city has ever seen. The festival is ripe with the Mardi Gras spirit, but there's more to the celebration than just a good party: It blends DIY tradition, creative costume design, and awesome musicianship.

“Every one of these bands has a unique sense of humor to complement their sound, as they mock and discredit the roots of hatred and injustice through the whimsical act of making music together," says the HONK! website. "The result is a spectacle that is radical and subversive without being militant or sanctimonious.”

And these aren't your typical street bands. Coming from over 19 different areas, including Vancouver, Austin, and New Orleans, they feature trumpets, trombones, tubas, saxophones, drums, singing, and every other instrument imaginable and deliver their music with a purpose. “Metaphorically speaking, [the bands] honk their horns for the same reasons motorists honk theirs: To arouse fellow travelers, to warn of danger, to celebrate milestones, and to just plain have fun," says the event's website.

Among the bands are the 19-piece What Cheer? Brigade from Providence -- “an aggressive mix of Bollywood, The Balkans, New Orleans, Samba, and Hip-Hop, played with the intensity of metal,” says the band’s website -- and New York City’s Rude Mechanical Orchestra.

Additionally, Bread and Puppets will bring their legendary political satire, mind-bending storytelling, puppets, costumes, and good vibes. Art lovers should check out the HONK! photography show at Inside-Out Gallery -- although the whole festival is a work of art, made and produced by people who have mastered the technique of a good time for all.

The party starts tonight night at Johnny D’s Uptown, but the real festival begins Saturday at noon throughout Davis Square. A parade to “reclaim the streets for horns, bikes, and feet” will move the whole posse from Davis Square to Harvard Square, where the festivities will continue until 6 p.m. The party continues with a harbor cruise featuring festival bands at 7:30 p.m. on the Provincetown II.

So wear your funky hat, let your freak flag fly, and hit the streets for a weekend you’ll never forget.

By Miguel de Braganza -- I love art, music, entrepreneurship, and the creative culture at large. I run Yes.Oui.Si. Boston, a multi-sensory exhibition space. My favorite place in Massachusetts is West Tisbury.

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