Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Honk at the Gong

We attended our second Honk! Festival at Wollongong at the weekend. Honk! started in the US a decade ago as a protest movement against the sterility, militarism and conformity of American marching bands.  HONK!-style street bands encourage individuality and musical improvisation. HONK! bands incorporate brass and percussion (like marching bands) and all their instruments are portable so the bands are able to perform freely in public spaces.  

American Honk! bands incorporate a lot of New Orleans type Jazz and Gospel influences while the nascent Honk! Oz movement incorporates influences from Australia's rich migrant heritages (Macedonian, Klezmer etc).  In America a lot of Honk! bands get involved with activist causes - that's yet to happen here.

One of my favourite bands at Honk! Oz this year was the Unusual Suspects (from Maleny Queensland). I really liked their style!

We were really impressed by the 12 year old Oscar who played percussion with the Unusual Suspects. It takes heaps of talent and attitude to play the way he does and to wear an outfit like this while you're doing it!
A friend and colleague from a long time ago - David, and his partner Lotte, are the instigators of Honk! in Australia. We feel very privileged to know them and to be able to support their wonderful Honk! Oz festival.
The pic below is of the Vic Janko Orkestar. That's David and Lotte and two of their very talented sons playing trumpet and trombone.  Their set was very Macedonian influenced with heaps of Jazz impros thrown in!
The Environmental Encroachment Band (from Chicago) returned to Honk Oz! this year. I love their playing too..it's pretty wild and soulful. This year they did an Elvis tribute in one of their sets in recognition of the King's 80th anniversary.

I love the way all David and Lotte's family is involved!

For us Honk Oz! is a weekend of pure joy, some magical music moments and a window into an alternative world that we would all benefit from engaging with more often.

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