Honking good time for Freo

THE funky festival which brings joy and activism to the street is back in Freo this weekend, but extending its blast to Perth..

WAHonk Fest is a celebration of alternative community street bands and is part of a global movement which had its start in the US city of Somerville, Massachusetts in 2006 when a group of like-minded souls banded together to promote peace, social justice and civic engagement through music.

It’s previously been run in Fremantle as part of its annual Street Arts Festival, but organiser Ken Allen said the Covid disruption gave it a chance to strike out on its own and expand into more parts of the city.

The opening party was due to crank up at Cranked Coffee in Leederville on Friday from 6pm, with the venue opening specially for the event with a liquor licence and pop-up bar.

Mr Allen said on Saturday there’ll be music at Perth City Farm from 8.30am before workshops at 11.30am for anyone keen to get involved.

“It’s an all-in WAHonk pick-up band workshop, so all those people who haven’t picked up their instrument for a while can participate,” he said.

• The Con Artists are a carnival of percussion, brass and more

While there’ll be sheet music for them to follow, he says most would be able to pick up the melody, and one of the characteristics of the Honk! Fest movement is not getting too fusty about skill levels.

“It’s about joy, and performing and playing, and also breaking down the barrier between the performers and the audience.”

Mr Allen said while street music doesn’t generate much radio air time, people “come running” when they hear it played live, which helps to create a sense of community. Previous WAHonks have been so much fun, 40 musicians are funding their own plane tickets from the eastern states just to participate in the local event.

After the City Farm workshops, WAHonk moves to The Perth Culture Centre with a huge line-up of performers spilling inside and out of PICA Bar from 2 – 8pm, and a gig at the Ellington Jazz Bar in Northbridge from 10.30pm – 1am.

Mr Allen said true to the movement’s roots, WAHonk has its own sense of activism, with a good dose of concern about the environment – one of the bands playing is known as Drummers for Climate Change. 

The finale in Fremantle on Sunday, at Walyalup Koort and Clancy’s Fish Pub also features the theme “songs with a message”, which he says means the bands have to perform at least one piece about an issue close to their heart.

Come with some loose change and a few notes of your own, as the musos are mostly funding their participation by busking.

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