by Reebee Garofalo
For the 2009 HONK! in Somerville, the HONK! committee outlined these goals for opening day, Friday:
- to open the festival with music rather than speakers
- to decentralize HONK! geographically and organizationally
- to bring new features into the festival, so it changes each year
- to increase diversity in HONK! participants and audience
HONK! Friday in 2009 involved 14 bands and 7 venues; 2010 was the second year of HONK! Friday. This report to the Somerville HONK! committee sketches the lessons, successes and potential of this style of HONK! outreach from 2010.
This year the HONK! Festival (http://honkfest.org/) sent members from 10 bands out to 7 sites to perform with and among young local musicians and to interact with neighborhood residents, political groups and community organizations. Among the sites were a number of Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB) (http://www.bgcb.org/) which provide after-school activities for kids ages 6-18. Another site, Zumix (http://www.zumix.org/index.php), is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) cultural organization dedicated to building community through music and the arts. The Boston Commons and Union Square, Somerville, locations gave bands an open-air public performance space for passersby.
HONK! Friday 2010 was marked by a spirit of exploration, collaboration and sharing across lines of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, musical aesthetics and performance styles. And what is most incredible to me is that we managed to make all of that fun! I am proud to be associated with such a rare and talented group of people who give of themselves so tirelessly to make the world a better place.
For me this was the best HONK! yet, and the Friday Neighborhood HONK!s were no small part of that. Thanks to all the bands for their talent and commitment, and their ability to deliver such a loud and joyful noise. You are most appreciated.
As we pursue this aspect of our activity more systematically, it seems to me that we are in a position to develop some very effective models for linking community engagement and music education. Here are the report-backs from Friday Neighborhood HONK!s 2010:
Rick Aggeler (BGCB): So I’m gettin’ really excited for everyone to come down this Friday. We’ve made kind of our own remix to “Ya Move Ya Lose” (we’ve been listening to a version of it online), and it’s gonna be so awesome to play it with you guys. Right now the kids wrote an 8-bar hook to it, and we have, I think, 8 kids who’ve written 16-bar raps as well. The ages are 10-14.
Bob Follansbee (HONK! Committee): Thanks to all—BLO members, EBB members, volunteer Julia, Rick at the BGC—for making this a special afternoon. Your willingness to let the kids take the center stage was fabulous, and I think it was a great opportunity for all of them, including those who had a chance to play your instruments and admire your various dresses.
Rick Aggeler: I want to second what Bob said. But before that, a big thank you to Bob for helping coordinate all this! For me, watching the kids interact with the bands, see the instruments, play the instruments, and collaborate with cats from the West Coast and western Mass it was a very special occasion for us at Blue Hill and the Studio Heat team. While it’ll sound corny, you guys really brought joy through music to our kids and exposed them to a whole new world of art, and I really, really appreciate it.
Sarah Reilly (BLO): Thank you, everyone! HONK! once again proved to be a weekend of continual, unparalleled fun, and being at the Blue Hill B&G Club was definitely the icing on the cake! It was amazing.
Iris Arielli (EBB): Please pass this on to the BLO, HONK! organizers, and, of course, the talented young rappers, dancers and musicians at Blue Hill Boys and Girls Club: Check it out—more photos, but even better, recordings of our time together in Dorchester last Friday! Thanx to fellow EBB drummer, Jeff, for documenting and editing. We had such an awesome time playing; thank you all for making it happen—it will continue to be one of my best HONK! memories. I posted the recordings here so you can download them (requires a free app): http://kiwi6.com/file?id=d52ka05rj6; http://kiwi6.com/file?id=yvevd60j9c; http://kiwi6.com/file?id=7cj1zbph4f. Now turn up the volume and sing along! It’s got such a great groove to it.
Bob Follansbee: These are great. The interactions between individual kids and band members were priceless and one of the things that made the afternoon special. And the recordings are terrific. They really capture the wonder and energy of the afternoon. For example, it was great how one of the kids referred to “the band from Cali.” I’d also forgotten that “J” called for a trumpet solo after the rapping on his own. Then there were the girls rapping and driving the bus on the Blue Hill Shuffle. The spontaneous “Smoke on the Water” that came out of Jeff’s work with the kid playing the riff on guitar, then the rappers putting their raps over the song without any preparation . . . many other great moments. Too bad BLO and EBB don’t live here—that collaboration could really take off with more time to develop it. I keep singing that little riff:
Party party, we’re gonna get crazy
Party party, we never get lazy
We’re all goin’ in and that’s the deal!
I hope you are decompressed from the HONK! intensity. I wanted to pass along my pix, which are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/52184139@N02/sets/. More as that develops.
Charlestown Boys & Girls Club—Springville All Stars Marching Band (western New York State)
Ken Field (HONK! Committee): The Springville Marching Band started playing just before 3 p.m. and immediately did a procession, many kids in tow, through the clubhouse, which mainly caters to younger kids, then out and up the sidewalk and around the block to the other building, which caters to teens, and then back to the first building. It was a big hit.
The Springvilles played for about an hour and a half outside, fully engaging about 60-75 kids, who danced, sang, clapped and smiled a lot. There were a number of kids who watched from a safe distance, but the band often walked around and sometimes moved into the “spectators” faces, which worked well. There was a krewe of young break-dance types, and though they initially deferred on getting involved, the band moved over to where they were hanging, and they basically couldn’t keep themselves from dancing to the music.
John Killoran (BGCB): I think Ken was right on in his account of today’s event. The band was terrific (musically) and were even better (personally) engaging our kids and putting on a fun show. It’s after 6 p.m. now, and the energy is still high among club members.
South Boston (Southy) Boys & Girls Club—Extraordinary Rendition Marching Band (ERB - Providence, RI)
Tim Bothwell (BGCB): I just want to thank you all again for coming today. The kids had an unbelievable time, and you could feel the positive energy in this place even after the band left!
Avi David (ERB): Thanks so much! We had a great time as well—thanks to all for organizing the event!
John Bell (HONK! Committee): Here are two images [add link?] from ERB’s playing at South Boston BGC. A good time was had by all!
Yawkey Boys & Girls Club of Roxbury—Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band (http://www.ensmb.com/) Somerville
Chuck Lechien (Emperor Norton): Now that the dust from HONK! has settled, I just wanted to say thank you so much for having us be a part of the neighborhood HONK! in Roxbury. The band had a blast playing with the kids, and it was a wonderful afternoon. I hope the kids had a good time and that we were able to impart some amount of enthusiasm for music and performance to them.
Jeremy T. Butler (BGCB): We had a wonderful time over at Roxbury as well, and I would like to thank you again for the energy and passion you brought to the club. The kids had an amazing time, and I did as well. As a matter of fact, the entire club loved it. It came up on our agenda for staff meeting the next day, and we got some really good feedback. So, thank you, and I hope we get to do it again in the future!
Margery Meadow (HONK! volunteer): One of the kids eagerly asked me, “Are you coming back next week?”
Zumix (East Boston)—Environmental Encroachment (Chicago, IL) Zumix brass and percussion ensemble
Mike Romanyshyn (HONK! Committee): The afternoon at Zumix with Environmental Encroachment was very good. There was a sizable contingent of Zumix horn players and drummers who showed up in their beautiful new space. Madeline, the director of Zumix, along with two teachers and an intern, joined the group of about 15 teenagers. Mike Smith from EE led a half -hour rehearsal getting five tunes together with everyone before we paraded to the Maverick T-stop via the waterfront park. The whole group played there to the 5 p.m. going-home crowd for about an hour. Very enthusiastic response. Nice all around.
A continuation of this collaboration took place at the parade on Sunday. Most of the same people from Zumix joined EE in the parade, and they played the tunes they had gotten together on Friday. Madeline led them, looking very happy.
Madeleine Steczynski (Zumix): We were just looking at photos from the East Boston HONK! parade on Flickr http://honkfest.org/pictures-videos/pictures-and-videos-2010/ There are some great shots!
Thanks to Minor Mishap (Austin, TX) and Leftist Marching Band (Portsmouth, NH) for their Friday interactions at Boston Common and to Rude Mechanical Orchestra (New York); the Somerville High School Marching Band, Drum Line, and World Percussion Ensemble; and SheBoom for their performances at Union Square, Somerville. Send us a report!