posts tagged with 'honk'
The best thing about the Honk Festival every October, besides the music, is how it lets everybody who wants let to just go out there with all their beautiful artistic energy. I don't like the phrase "let your freak flag fly," but it does kind of fit. I can't rock a tutu like some people, to say nothing of stilts, but I do love watching and being part of the action. And most of all I like watching the young people. Because some of them can really get into it!
The parade always has tons of young marchers, and yesterday was no exception: some playing instruments, some dancing, some in strollers... all getting to be right in the middle of things. The kids on the sidelines could get into it too, high-fiving politicians and clowns and petting dragons. And dancing.
Of course, for the real dancing action you needed to go to Davis Square on Saturday. I did, and I spent a blissful hour jumping around to the wonderful varied music of the Party Band and a slightly less blissful hour moving as much as I could in the middle of the crowd listening to the Young Fellaz Brass Band. I got there late for their set—they started right as the Party Band finished but a couple blocks away—and while I did my best to push my way to the front I was stymied about two rows back. If only I was a kid myself I could have just squirmed through, even among the musicians, like one girl did at the Party Band set.
Everybody loved it, of course. My own kids didn't make it on Saturday—they didn't want to leave playing with friends for the uncertain prospect of listening to lots of loud music and maybe being bored. I was sad to not have them there, especially as I watched all the other little hippy kids having such a great time, but then again I wouldn't have been able to do nearly as much dancing with them around. And they were there in force on Sunday for the parade!
The only sad thing about the day was that this year there were no bands playing Sunday in Harvard Square except on the main stage. The main stage is nonsense, completely packed up with people watching bands shuffle on and off for 15-minute sets; the hour-long side stages were what we've always enjoyed. Not this year. We did manage to catch 20 minutes of the charmingly-named "Bolschewistische Kurkapelle Schwarz-Rot," from Germany, and Lijah and I did a little dancing... but it wasn't quite enough. We're practicing music at home now, so we can start our own band. Seems good.
A week ago the boys and I headed into Somerville to take in the music and enchantment of Honkfest 2016. They were excited when we set out—we have prior form in Honk enjoyment—and we had high hopes of meeting up with friends and taking in several hours of quality bands.
Unfortunately, while the festival is pretty child-friendly, the boys weren't particularly festival-friendly. With a bunch of busy days and late nights over the previous week they were pretty worn out. Certainly, except for Lijah—who was also charmingly decked out in forehead eye-patch for the occasion—they weren't up for any wild dancing.
Even a stop at a playground didn't excite them for very long, and pretty soon Zion was in the trailor and down for the count.
Harvey had enough energy to keep upright, but without Zion to play with he wasn't too pleased with things either (nor was he pleased with the food choices I had available). So we said an early goodbye to friends and headed out—though I did have to stop to check out one more band.
And I'm glad I did, because The Party Band was my favorite of the day. We'd seen them a few weeks ago in the Bedford Day parade—where I thanked them for bringing some real music to the event—but it turns out that the group then was only a portion of the whole band. All together they put out some impressive sound, and Lijah and I enjoyed it to the fullest. Or he enjoyed it until he fell asleep on my shoulder: I guess it was a little too much like his old bedtime music for him to hold out. He's heavy, asleep, but I managed to hang onto him until the end of the set, at which point I dumped him in the copilot seat and we headed for home. There was some considerable mirth at our passage—two sleeping kids amidst all that noise was apparently more outlandish than any of the other wild sights of the festival—but Harvey and I were too grumpy to appreciate it.
In retrospect, though, it was a fine outing. I heard some music, the boys didn't whine too much, and we learned that they can do parades (especially parades next to playground) much better than crowded hour-long sets. Next year I'll do the Saturday part of the festival by myself... or maybe Lijah can come with me, if he asks nicely.
We were talking with friends of ours last week about what it would be like to move out to the western part of the state to have more land and freedom to farm, but our two outings today show that there are some pretty sweet advantages to living where we do. In the morning, we headed half-an-hour west, to show Mama the beauties of Old Frog Pond Farm that she missed out on last week.
It was even more beautiful in the sunshine, and after a picnic lunch the boys were delighted to be there (there was some absence of delight before the food was served).
And no, Leah's not checking Facebook in that picture... she's looking at the photos she just took herself. While she loves having a new smartphone, she's still totally present for her family.
With the sunshine and drier weather we noticed some things we had missed out on the first time, like a seat carved from granite.
We also enjoyed seeing old favorites from last week. The boys were excited to see if Mama could spot the white leaves (Zion was so excited he let the secret out early), and to share the Adam and Eve piece—particularly pointing out how Adam's penis is made from a spring.
Then after a bit of a rest at home the boys and I headed out again to the big city to catch some of the Honk Festival performances (Leah stayed home; she doesn't do cities). We can't do the parade this year—a birthday party takes priority—but we didn't want to miss the anarchistic brass band fun! Looking to avoid parking problems and too much walking, we left the car at church in Cambridge and biked over to the festival. There was music everywhere.
We stayed for about two hours and listened to four bands up close. Lijah enjoyed dancing to the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and he loved that the crowd was passing a couple beach balls around (despite Harvey's hopes and thoughtful maneuverings, we never got to bat them ourselves).
Next we got right up close behind the Ten Man Brass Band, and even though the horns were facing the other direction it was seriously loud. They played two Youngblood Brass Band songs while we were there, so Lijah was thrilled (he still digs the band); while he was a little too overwhelmed by the crowd to get down and dance, he totally got into the music from the safety of my arms.
Not the best picture, since I was holding him and trying to selfie him with the phone, but let me assure you he was absolutely feeling the beat!
After that we headed over to check out the New Creation Brass Band set, which was even more crowded. The older boys were tiring a bit, and were happy to sit at the back of the throng and enjoy some dinner. You don't get Mama-style bento boxes on an outing with Dada, but at least there's plenty of food.
Ten Man and New Creation were the bands I most wanted to see, so when the latter wrapped up their set I figured it was time to show the boys some fun. Happily there was another band playing by a playground right around the corner. As soon as Harvey and Zion got through the gate they were off, and I only saw them from a distance for the next 20 minutes or so.
The structure was a little to tall for Lijah, so he and I watched the band play on in the gathering twilight.
Our two outings were very different, but they did have one thing in common: they're both full of so much artistic vitality that it's hard to leave them to go back to regular life. It doesn't seem fair that Honk is just one weekend; we could use more of that wild anarchist joy (and good music!) spread over the other seasons too! And while Old Frog Pond Farm is open weekends all fall, it can be pretty easy to forget its spirit of quietly surprising creativity during the week—to say nothing of over the winter.
But we'll see what we can do to hold onto them: in between church and the party tomorrow we'll be playing music and adding to the world of adventure we're creating in the woods behind the house. Come over Monday and join in the fun!
This past Sunday we headed into the urban jungle for another year's edition of the Honk! parade. We got there plenty early—by design, because for the boys the wonderful playground on Cambridge Common is as much of a draw as the music and anarchy. And they made the most of it, playing so independently that I didn't even manage to take a good picture: they were too far away! Of course, the parade was awesome too.
Besides the bands there were puppets, protest groups, adults and kids on stilts, and of course tall bikes. It was everything a parade should be, and totally unlike the Bedford Day parade, which is also everything a parade should be. (That statement could stand to be examined further in another blog post.) Actually, there were a couple commonalities: both parades have a big kid component, and new this year Honk had a unit throwing out candy. Just a bit, but it was enough to cement the boys' understanding that all parades everywhere should give them candy.
After the parade we headed into Harvard Square, where we had lunch with some friends sitting on the thin end of the traffic island splitting the two lanes of Mass Ave in front of Harvard Yard. Car-free streets are great! Of course, while they were car-free the streets were totally and all-encompassingly choked with people, so Leah was quickly overwhelmed; and, truth be told, it was even a little bit much for me. But I wanted to take more music, and so, surprisingly, did Zion. And since he could go on my shoulders he was the only one of us who could actually see the musicians the first couple bands we found.
There are a lot of fun and interesting bands involved in the festival, but I wanted to hear some real good music so I was happy to find the New Creation band playing an un-advertized set on the sidewalk. The boys and I were even able to find a spot where we could see, and we happily enjoyed a couple great examples of modern New Orleans brass band music. Leah indulged us and waited patiently. I could have sat there listing for as long as the band kept playing, but let no one say I lack consideration entirely! I also found a back way out of the festival throng so we didn't have to struggle through the crowd again, and a quiet bathroom in a Harvard library (though Zion preferred to pee outside, on the library's bushes), so I'm not totally useless as a provider either.
All in all it was an experience, and we're already looking forward to doing it again next year! Just maybe slightly differently.
We love crazy leftists and we love marching bands, so when our friend Luke came to church just to let us know about a festival combining the two we just had to go, nevermind that we were completely unprepared. Honk! was calling!
I suppose that improvisation was in the spirit of the thing anyhow, and the timing worked out perfectly for us to get to the Cambridge Common just in time to catch most of the parade. And what a parade it was! Bands, puppets, bands, anti-Zionist chanters, and more bands! Also a roller-derby team and people on bicycles. There were only two issues with our lack of preparation, one of which was our lack of a proper camera; moving parade units are hard to photograph effectively at the best of times and impossible with a cell phone camera with no zoom and a three-second shutter delay. So you'll have to take my word for it that it was totally awesome and may have spoiled us for any other parades, ever.
One of the coolest parts—well, besides the marching cello and the anti-Scott Brown buffalo totem—was the presence of tons of kids. It made me worry that we were doing our boys a disservice by not involving them in crazy alternative lifestyles until Leah pointed out that we do some tolerably crazy things ourselves and, besides, we have plenty of time yet. I can tell you that we've been practicing music at home pretty much non-stop since!
After the parade we pushed through the crowds to Harvard Square, where Honk! combined with Octoberfest to produce the biggest festival we've ever experienced. We heard some music, chatted with friends last seen at a parade in Lexington, and had a surprising amount of money sucked out of our pockets in the interest of feeding ourselves and supplying Harvey with amusements. You'd think four stages of live band music plus break dancers, costumed freaks, and more people than we've seen in the last six months would have kept him entertained, but the Thomas-inspired road train ride proved to be completely irresistible and returned in Harvey enjoyment well more than the six dollars it cost. We didn't pay for the bounce house, though, so some tears for that.
But it was starting to rain by then anyways, so under our umbrella—hey, even improvising we come prepared!—we made our happy way back to the car. Which of course broke down half-way home, but that's another story.
Next year's festival is already on our schedule—or would be, that is, if the dates were actually published yet—and next time we'll bring our own food. Perhaps we'll bicycle there as well.