Old Press Releases

The Stranger Suggests: HONK! Fest West
The Stranger – Paul Constant
You can keep your manicured summer music festivals with their huge acts—what I want is noisy chaos. Marching bands from around the country descend onto the streets and clubs around the intersection of 12th and Vale in Georgetown to blast their horns, punish their giant drums, and give hundreds of drunken revelers their marching orders. Street food abounds as all the usual food trucks set up shop, hoping to catch Honkers as they wander from sight to sight and beat to beat. It’s a total fucking loud mess of a party, and it is glorious.

Honk at Gas Works
Seattle P.I.
Yes, it’s supposed to be a bit cloudy, but when has that stopped Seattle from having a good time? Come on down, bring your kids, bring a picnic, join the fun. And, if we may be so presumptuous as to offer some advice (it certainly wouldn’t be the first time): you’ll have even more fun if you come as a participant, not just a tourist. Sure, come on down and listen to the music. But, bring an instrument, bring a kite, bring a frisbee, bring stilts, bring a ball, and you’re guaranteed to double your pleasure.

HONK! Fest West marches into Seattle, with free fun
Seattle Times – Michael Upchurch
Orkestar Zirkonium, Tubaluba, Nu Klezmer Army, Artesian Rumble Arkestra …

Not since the psychedelic heyday of 1960s San Francisco, with its Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service, have bands with a certain countercultural kinship come up with such enticing, evocative names for themselves.

The difference is that, rather than brandishing amplified guitars, these folks are all exuberantly drum-and-brass-centric. They’ll be putting that exuberance on display at “HONK! Fest West,” a three-day, mostly free, indoor-outdoor festival happening this weekend in Georgetown, Gas Works Park, Fremont’s Hale’s Palladium and Seattle Center.

As The Band Goes Marching…To Gasworks!
The Fremocentrist — Kirby Lindsay

“I have a perverse love of that surprise,” admitted Tyson Lynn, one of the primary HFW organizers, “the dumfounded look of people who find it.” Last year, that look appeared on a lot of Fremont faces and, according to anecdotal evidence collected after the fact, most of them loved it too.


Honk! Fest West does continue to evolve and adapt – to find new methods of bringing music onto the sidewalks, and to the people. “Every year that I’ve done it,” explained Lynn, “we’ve changed the structure, to find the perfect balance.”

There do have a model to work from, sort of. The original Honk Fest, now in its eighth year, takes place in Somerville, Massachusettes (near Boston) in October. In March 2011, another Honk! launched – in Austin, Texas.

“It comes out of a tradition from Europe,” explained Lynn. Not the festival, but the music some of the bands play, which has roots in Balkan brass music, a relative of circus and/or gypsy music. Although, “each band is vastly different,” admitted Kool Whip. Even with somewhat similar material, each band will approach it radically distinct ways, Lynn explained, “you never feel like you are hearing the same thing twice.”

HONK! Fest West rattles Seattle streets and parks
Ballard News-Tribune – Christy Wolyniak, News Intern and , UW News Lab student
Billy Kessler, an attendee, said that regular events like HONK! Fest West build a community. “Festivals and events like this are ways for a community to renew itself and for people to connect with each other,” said Kessler.

Ballard resident Andrew Barton was at the festival to support Soundwave, the Seattle Sounders’ Football Club band. Wearing a Sounders jersey and hat, Barton said that the wide variety of performers at the festival encourages the community to come together. “I think there are a lot of diverse people here which generates a closer knit community,” he said. “That’s always something that benefits the livelihood of the culture and the closeness of the neighborhood.”

HONK! Fest West at Gas Works Saturday
Wallyhood – Chris Witwer
What is Honk! Fest West? Well, it’s not a gaggle of geese or a google of gooses. Nor is it a festival designed to celebrate my Roman nose. It’s about horns & percussion & dancing.

HONK! Fest to take over Seattle streets
Ballard News-Tribune – Anne-Marije Rook
“To me, what’s great is what hasn’t changed from last year,” Lynn said. “Amazing bands from across the country and Canada running amuck through our lovely city, reclaiming public space, and playing a wide range of music guaranteed to get you dancing.

“If you’ve never seen over 200 musicians take over a neighborhood, set up shop in the streets, and blow some incredible music, you are doing yourself a disservice. We are lucky to have some of the best bands from across the nation and right here in Seattle playing for you for free.”

2011 Honk Fest West
Grumpy Monk
Attending the Honk Fest was a hugely cathartic experience for me. Most of April and May had been spent looking for work, working obscene hours at my contract position, looking for my own apartment, attending to the logistics of moving from where I was staying with friends on Bainbridge into Seattle, and fighting with work to get the time to do so. Just being outside in the sunshine with bands playing, the trees opening their first leaves of spring, and people dancing around felt like I had finally arrived.

Marching Band Festival HONK! Fest West Returns to Seattle
CultureMob – Tom Mohrman
Can you hear the drums? Can you hear the Horns? This weekend Honk! Fest West returns to Seattle.

This Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15, there will be many marching bands filling the city with music, dancing, and several varieties of exciting craziness. The performances will be free and fun for all ages.

CAN’T MISS IT: The Weekend
Seattlest – Tyson Lynn
MISCHIEVOUS HONKS: In May, HONK! Fest West returns for another year of marching bands, drum corps, samba lines, and anything acoustic and mobile that makes a ruckus. But this Saturday, HONK! is throwing a Night of Mishchief and Music to raise funds for the festival and it’s a doozy. Stomp along to marching music from Titanium Sporkestra, One Love, and Movitas; dance off your blues to Mouce Manouche, Purty Mouth, and Miss Mamie Lavona The Exotic Mulatta & Her White Boy Band; and prep your nethers for burlesque by Boom Boom L’Roux, Madisun Avenue, and Trojan Original. Pre-sale tickets can be obtained today by donating $25 or more to their Kickstarter, or day-of at the door. HONK! is a 501(c)3 Organization through The Vera Project, so all donations are tax deductible, with all proceeds going to covering the line-items of a free street festival and paying the musicians for their awesomeness. Support the 4th Annual HONK! Fest West!

Honkfest! West
So Seattle – L. Catherine
Are you a fan of music that starts right on the street? I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Imagine… you’re in a city, walking around, you’re right in the heart of downtown. You witness tourists, ambling on the sidewalk, their sweaty hands plastered to the button on the cameras around their necks. You’ll see lots of shoppers, you’ll of course see the yuppies on their cellphones, and then you’ll see the occasional busker or street performer. Some are good with genuine talent, some not so good.

If they’re good, you might stop for a minute to witness the spectacle before your eyes. You might toss in a dollar in their well-worn, usually weather beaten instrument case. You can recognize that music is ever-flowing and a constant. It can happen anywhere. You can appreciate the fine art of spontaneous music. It could start with a mere drum beat, or someone clapping their hands, or the bittersweet moan of a lonely homeless man singing the blues. Music can happen anywhere and can occur at any time.

Our 2011 Press Kit