HONK!TX is excited to return to Austin for our fourth fantastic year!

This year, scores of musician will descend once more on the city of Austin to bring you the big, bold and brassy musical mayhem HONK!TX is famous for. The fun kicks off Thursday evening with a benefit for visiting HONK! bands, followed by three days of music, free and open to the public, from Friday through Sunday.

courtesy of Flickr user MrLaugh

What Is HONK!TX?

HONK!TX is a nonprofit, community-driven festival that brings brass bands from around the country to perform absolutely free in the public spaces of Austin, TX.

Performing an array of genres ranging from European Klezmer and Balkan, to New Orleans second-line brass music, spectacular bands will come from far and wide this year to transform everyday locations around Austin into organic stages, where the line between crowd and performers dissolves and music, mirth and mayhem are born. Harking back to a time when festivities and entertainment were not something created for the enjoyment of a passive audience, but rather an experience created through the participation of each and every person involved, HONK!TX is more than just a music festival; it is a celebration of community, collaboration, individuality, and creative expression. Come HONK! with us!!!

The HONK!TX Community

Austin Samba School leads the parade for HONK!TX 2012

The merry mayhem of HONK!TX is only possible by the collective energy and enthusiasm of the local community.

A committee of fourteen incurably passionate HONK!ers works tirelessly to create the spectacle and magic of HONK!TX with, and for, the Austin community. Along with this troupe of die-hard organizers, scores of volunteers donate time, energy, vehicles, and even open their homes to visiting musicians. Bands travel long distances to perform at great personal expense, having only some of their costs covered. Local businesses and citizens generously support HONK!TX financially and through in-kind donations. Why do so many work so hard and give so generously? Join the revelry this March and you’ll soon see!

YOU help make HONK!TX happen: Donate and Volunteer Now! 

Background & History

HONK!TX takes its name and inspiration from Somerville’s HONK! fest and Seattle‘s HONK! Fest West, and draws upon the common themes and visions these festivals share with us: music, community, and public space.

The first HONK! festival took place in 2006 in Somerville, Massachusetts, when local community street band Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society set about envisioning and creating a festival to celebrate the growing nationwide community of activist marching bands and the community-rooted union of art, activism, and music.

Since it’s birth in Somerville, HONK! Fest has inspired sister festivals to emerge across North America, including HONK! Fest West in Seattle, PRONK! In Providence, RI, HONK! NYC, in Brooklyn, and of course, your very own HONK!TX.

What is a HONK! Band?

“Across the country and around the world, a new type of street band is emerging.”

Acoustic and mobile, HONK bands borrow repertoire and inspiration from a diverse set of folk music traditions, including New Orleans second line brass bands, European klezmer, Balkan and Romani music, and Brazilian Afro Bloc and Frevo traditions, as well as the passion and spirit of Mardi Gras and Carnaval. These bands all share a commitment to several core principles: everywhere they go, they perform to celebrate; some to protest; some to proclaim; and for all of them: to have fun.

See this year’s lineup of Bands!

The bands, ranging in size from 4 to 40 members, are inspired to travel long distances at great personal expense to joyously reclaim public spaces and create a music-filled environment. It’s an environment where we can all learn and grow from each other musically, personally, politically, socially, and culturally. And, as with all HONK!s, we can have a lot of fun in the process.

Sometimes featuring uniforms or band colors, playing original, traditional, and borrowed music on a wide variety of instruments, and encouraging lively audience participation, these bands thrive on the flourishing of community interest and delight in destroying the artificial barriers and apathy imposed by contrived political and societal structures. The bands open themselves to diversity in all its forms: not just the conventions of age, gender, and orientation – but background, upbringing, and for many of them, even level of musical experience. They carry strong messages of hope, unity, and social change in their hearts and their music, and convey it to the audiences around them and to each other.

As these talented musicians from around the continent share a weekend of collaborative performance, they influence and inspire each other and everyone present. In the public spaces amidst the audiences, the power of music emanating from sousaphones, bass drums, piccolos, trombones, snares, cymbals, clarinets, voices and more speaks to each of us individually, collectively, and purposefully. The festival offers a chance for us to examine how we perceive and interact with our own communities and thus, the world around us. We ask you to join these bands in musical celebration and the reclamation of public space, and lift your heart, mind, and ears to experience all of the wonder and magic this community festival is capable of.