Ten years ago today I marched for the first time with the band that would become JP Honk. I just missed marching in their Wake Up The Earth Parade but here is an item that was making the rounds... The Venerable Book of Honk - Chords and Lyrics - 2013 April 17.. you can compare that to the current chart library I manage for the band
May 10, 2023
At that point the band was very much of an offshoot of the vibrant Dunster Rd community, and was strongly anchored on Jonathan on keyboard (rolling around on the back of a big tricycle) and Bryan on Guitar. I think you can hear (and see on the left just a small part) of the percussion rack of pots and pans we used to roll around for audience participation..... there was also a "big shared skirt" thing, a big thing stretchy cloth that like 3-4 people could wear as a skirt together
Over the years the band has remolded itself as more of a classic New Orleans style street band, keeping up the community and activist vibe, and last year we were a full on "back of the t-shirt band" for HONK!fest, which I think reflects the work we've put into shaping it as a place for joy and (usually) harmony.
On the one hand, wow, ten years! On the other hand it's like wait, I've only been doing this mostly in my 40s?? Ah well here's to many more years honkin'!
JP Honk via JP Gazette
The one year I manage to get to Tubachristmas and I get in the Globe :-D
JP Honk @ HONK!fest 2022, photos by Michael Hall:
October 16, 2022
Open Photo Gallery
Nelson and Matt...
Guest conductor Sophie...
Declan, Cathleen, Kirk
Look closely and you'll see the famous Rubin Brothers along with the band...
Officiant Cathleen running the ring ceremony with a bit of trombone business from Eze...
All at scenic Jamaica Pond!
The PRONK festival is reinventing itself, away from the classic HONK! model and into being more neighborhood-centric, and emphasizing indigenous folks and BIPOC... School of Honk played, and then JP Honk was invited to help start up the brass section of the after party...
October 10, 2022
Open Photo Gallery
They had a booth with poets taking commissions...
Nice fall day for a parade!
I miss the photogenic waterfront but the park made a nice performance space...
I caught Second Line Brass Band doing a neighborhood walk before the main parade... reminded me of the old Salvation Army shtick of heading out with a band.
Is there something behind me?
"Farto"? "Farlo"? I guess the former is better decoration for the portalots.
So glad Eze's older brother Gio could make it - we were really low on trumpets for our After Party set.
I like this shots blending my horn's purple lights and the green rows of the entryway...
October 9, 2022
Open Photo Gallery
Lantern Making and Staging for 5 parades...
Askew view of our drums at our Kenney Park premier...
Kenney Park again, photo by Kellie Fournier
I also joined in with School of Honk...
Wide view from the bass section...
HONKfests tend to have after party where folks from different bands eat, rest, shmooze, and jam together...
Banda Rim Bam Bum (from Santiago, Chile) was one of the featured traveling bands... (along with Young Fellaz Brass Band from New Orleams) - they play accompanied by this deathly figure, blowing bubbles from a handheld bubblegun...
Two photos by Seton L, JP Honk at Roslindale Porchfest, Adubbs then Me...
Remember that you're a thought machine.
Marched with New Magnolia in the Feast of St Anthony's festival Saturday and Sunday. Saturday had a lot of ducking into restaurants flash-mob style. It's hours and hours of marching but great to be part of a century-strong tradition... it's a bop
In June 1943, The United States Army Band was ordered overseas to provide musical support; first in North Africa and then in battle-weary Europe, not returning to U.S. soil until June 1945.
Here you can see John L. Latwas (tuba) and Henry Weichler (piccolo) sitting in a slit trench. When The U.S. Army Band was shipped out for deployment in WWII, there were ten Soldiers who were in the original 1922 formation of the band, all of whom were WWI veterans (including Latwas).
JP Honk had one of its most prominent gigs ever closing the Harvard MayFair yesterday...
Happy Wake Up The Earth! Photos via Greg Cooland and Deborah J Karson, cmg, and Jennifer Taub:
Not sure those last ones are me at my band best but still. Good to be able to swap layers, either JP Honk Purple or School of Honk dots on top. My alabaster legs though...
A friend mentioned my band and I were the poster children for the Tom Donahue Roslindale Day Parade calendar...
(askew banner and weird playing-with-left-hand so I can signal with right and all)
Interesting thoughts on progressive liberals vs conservatives; on how a liberal says they might be willing to sacrifice the statue of liberty to save a human life, and a conservative might view that as ridiculous; but if you asked them if they would sacrifice a spouse or personal loved one, the conservative might change their answer. And then into interesting thoughts on how Conservative view is fundamentally you can't make the world better, but you can punish people for being bad, and so that deeply informs their inability to make good, useful government.
I wrote up about a microreview of Pixelmator Pro on my devblog - just kind of goofing / recrecreating an effect I've seen around:
Fractals as a way of thinking about grief
I dunno, maybe it's too loose with the metaphor?
Like I've had similar thoughts that maybe life has that fractal aspect, in the sense of there's more detail the more you go in. But "detail" isn't enough, it has to have that self-similarity. So I dunno.
JEREMY ROBARD: Hi, I'm Jeremy Robard! Entrepreneur, VIP and founder of the revolutionary program "Think your way to success". It's a 3 step program that's been changing lives and my income for the last 2 years! 5 Years ago, I was a nobody, just like you! After my "Think Your Way To Success" program, I spend the entire weekend in my Jacuzzi, or engaging in the exciting sport of domino toppling! Hey! If you can think it, you can do it! One of my award winning courses is sure to be perfect for you. The first course, I call "Think - Hold That Thought - Complete", because that's what you do. Step 2 is known as "Learn - Start - Doing", where I explain the mysteries of starting. Or take the new accelerator course, which will have you laughing at ugly strangers, "Motivate, Demonstrate, Then Motivate Again". Just listen to these, endorsements and remember these people volunteered, they aren't being paid much.Just played GTA:VC (again) now that it's on Switch. It was my first GTA, and has a sweet spot between the over-simplicity of 3 (namely by having copters and motorcycles) and the huge scope of San Andreas.
MALE #1: I've been on the "Think - Hold That Thought - Complete" program and I have to say, I'm going to start my career in being a well-paid, rich person!
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JEREMY ROBARD: Call now, and sign up for my "Think Your Way To Success" program. And if you want to think really fast, try my "Crank It Out" program. Call 1-866-434-SELF. Hey! Don't just do it, think about it!
This spot stuck with me this play through, especially since these days I'm thinking about "thoughts vs feelings" as motivational force, and "Don't just do it, think about it!" seems like great advice. (What's weird about this ad are the course titles... I don't know, they seem sort of plausible and not very jokey, especially given GTA's usual hamfisted parody standards.)
Vincent and his mini-sousaphone, newest member of JP Honk...
November 4, 2021
November 1, 2021
via Vanessa Mourao (photo by her husband), at the School of Honk Birthday celebration at the Powderhouse in Somerville
HAPPY HONK! One of my fellow tubists reminds me I have to keep up my dancing game.
October 4, 2021
In a sense, we work backward, either consciously or unconsciously, creating work that fits the venue available to us. That holds true for the other arts as well: pictures are created that fit and look good on white walls in galleries just as music is written that sounds good either in a dance club or a symphony hall (but probably not in both). In a sense, the space, the platform, and the software "makes" the art, the music, or whatever. After something succeeds, more venues of a similar size and shape are built to accommodate more production of the same. After a while the form of the work that predominates in these spaces is taken for granted--*of course* we mainly hear symphonies in symphony halls.I've thought about this passage, or at least this book as the source of similar sentiment, often over the years, and was surprised to see I hadn't placed it in my common place blog before.
Currently I'm using it to bolster a defence of bands I'm in; I'm getting some heat from one of its members that it's not taking the music seriously enough.
But I think the idea that music is shaped by the space is mirrored by how it's also shaped by who shows up. My HONK! music tends towards the motley. Not just activist bands, but open community bands who will try to work with people at all levels and from all backgrounds - and, which might be the sticking point, doesn't necessarily demand a lot of time "woodshedding". (Maybe this reflects my own laziness about practicing. I've always coasted on tuba parts being less technical and my own constantly being in about 4 bands at once, and so I'm maybe too reluctant to tell people they need to hunker down.)
So we have a mix of people who maybe just had music-as-an-elective in high school and college and are getting back to it, or even some people who just started with ear training School of Honk, against, like, lapsed escapees from Berklee. We draw music influence and sometimes charts from lots of places (probably especially other HONK bands...) in the NOLA street tradition and trad jazz and maybe a little klezmer and African and Central/South American and Caribbean - like in a way it reflects a beautiful patchwork society. I mean not as much as we'd like at times- achieving diversity and looking like the less-gentrified parts of neighborhoods we're in is a challenge. Like if you're trying to frame most music as being of a culture, our is more loosely knit than many other traditions that come from a specific community - like, progressive liberals, often white, who live in small atomic families, often are living far from where they grew up, and who dig on bringing in lots of musical influences to their playing.
I've always thought that musical performance is usually leaning either towards connecting with crowds or impressing other musicians. The best can of course do both, but in a world of part-time musicians, I think it's ok to focus on the former more than the latter. "3 chord wonder" punk bands could rock the hell out of their venues! And while that's not who we are or what we do, I think it's a good reminder that even simpler music can be emotionally resonate.
I'm always going to worry that I'm not being harsh enough with the band, that maybe it could benefit from more tough love on demanding practice, more careful tuning, work on intonation, emphasis on dynamic, and thoughtful design of percussion. And my fundamental inability to judge critically (something that's really fundamental to my temperament, but that's a different story) is some of why I usually shy from an official role of "leader" - along my usual preference for consensus over top-down authority. (Also, I used to hold the idea that HONK bands - like my high school marching band - must always shun music stands, but have come to learn to split our repertoire into stuff we can march around with and pieces we will be stationary for, I think a decent compromise)
And we've lost a few of the "escapees from serious musical pursuit" players who get frustrated with the group, see its level as more of a ceiling than a floor. It's a bummer when that happens, because it's usually a loss acoustically and pedagogically , and of course I get filled with second-guessing. But still, I'm pretty happy with what my bands are able to do and the community they bring to my life and the chance to have musical fun for myself and others.
New personal cards! I decided to lean into how like 90% of why I hand them out is tuba related, and even did a QR code link to kirk.is/bands which might simplify my shpiel to people who might want to start playing in one of the groups I'm in.
September 17, 2021
Based on the bottom photo here which remains one of my favorites though it's not a look I go for very often now. In retrospect i should have touched up Alien Bill's pupil to make it bigger.
FB "this day" (7 years ago, 2014) came up with this shot.
I have other shots with a similar bell decoration, but usually with blue tape. (Tape-on-bell is more classic than my current use of covers, but of course hard to change between bands.)
Been fooling around with a mobile app "Prisma", high-powered, sometimes AI-backed filters.
Happy International Tuba Day
(via Andrew Huang)
January 14, 2021
I put together a photo slide show to go with a recording of JP Honk's gig Saturday night:
Pretty pleased with how it all came out!
School of HONK! Friendsgiving Dance Party, I'm in the "miniband".
Man, it looks so much better when I'm dancing a little than just standing stiff.
Folks from my band BABAM has been participating in a weekly vigil in West Roxbury to support Black Lives Matter. Here's the crew that was there last week along with a bonus glitch-y photo of other participants.
Photos by Stewart Ting Chong
my look for Extinction Rebellion's funeral for a sustaining climate ...
An essay I wrote about playing tuba that was published in Euclid High Schools literary magazine "Eucuyo" - kind of a high cringe level for me now, so read at your own risk...
September 12, 2020
I play the tuba. It's a rather pleasant way I have of passing time. In this world there are few instruments in which the very playing of the said instrument is in itself a physical endeavor. The tuba is one of them. "I am a tuba player," states my philosophy, "therefore I can do anything." I consider the tuba the penultimate instrument. First God created the tuba, then with the material remaining He/She created the other instruments. The ultimate instrument, of course, is the kazoo. But the the tuba is a close second.
I started playing brass in third grade. I started on a baritone, which is like a premature tuba. I look back with fond memories on the days when I could only play two notes, F and G, and those not very well. Then things became "sorta interesting," to quote myself again. Well, actually, not all that interesting. Sigh.
Most of my musical training has been at school or at the Salvation Amy. The Salvation Army is a church, besides being a public service operation. So for three whole years, I happily, badly tooted away. Then, fate stepped in.
A trumpet player in my sixth grade band decided to switch from high pressure, high competition, world of trumpeteering to laid back, no competition land of Baritoneering. This upset me. I've always liked being the only player of an instrument in at least one of the bands I'm in. It's an ego kick to see your name as the only name listed under the heading "baritones." So when this trumpet player switched, a thought popped into my head. 'Right now, no one is playing TUBA! I can switch and voila, I'm a one man section again!'
So the powers-that-be of the Glens Falls Middle School music program (Mr. Antolini) locked me in a practice room with the scales of both instruments and told me to "learn 'em". So I did. My tooting continued, just as bad (if not worse) but in a lower octave.
Then I moved from Glens Falls (as immortalized in 'The Last of the Mohicans' and home of Glens Falls Middle School), New York to Cleveland Heights, Ohio. There I went to Monticello Middle School. Mrs. Beale, the music director there, was a major influence on my Tubaing. She taught me quite a lot about style and technique. I also continued playing in the Salvation Army corps band.
Around Christmas time of my second and last year at Monticello, I was informed about an event called Tuba Christmas by Mrs. Beale. I decided to try it out. 250+ tubas, euphoniums, and baritones gathered together in a large music hall and played, appropriately enough, Christmas carols. It was such a pure, mellow sound. It was enough to drive a man insane, so consider what it did to me!
Euclid, Ohio became my next home. I then joined the NEOSA (North Eastern Ohio Salvation Army) Divisional Youth Band. A trip to Mexico with the Youth Band highlighted my freshman year. Mexico was an experience that completely blew my mind. The people there had nothing like we have in the States, yet their spirit and appreciation was completely overwhelming. I also managed not to get Montezuma's Revenge.
One experience that I have neglected to mention is playing for the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle effort. This involves playing eighteen Christmas carols over and over for hours on end as your lips begin to stick to your metal mouthpiece and you pray that your valves will remain moving throughout the day. I returned to the lighter weight baritone for this chilly thrill. It is not easy to perfect your vibrato as your teeth chatter uncontrollably.
Of course there is always the wonder of Euclid High Marching Band. Marching across the field, playing as loudly as you can against eighty of everything else is not a favorable environment to hear the bass line, trying to remember where to march next, all while carrying a BIG white fiberglass tuba (sousaphone really) is not my idea of a Good Thing. Eventually football season ends, though, and symphonic band begins. Real music at last! Music that you can sit down for! Yippeeee!
Somewhere in this I became a fairly decent Tubaist. I'm not sure where, I'm not sure when, but it happened. So I'll continue making up bass lines (which is fun) and marching in marching band (which is not fun) and Life shall Trudge on.
Some thoughts, 30 years later:
- "and those not very well" construction is a bit of a lift from Douglas Adams' Restaurant at the End of the Universe
- The bit on Mexico is probably a little racist and a lot condescending
- Interesting that I'm so down on marching band... in retrospect I liked the music I played in it much more than the symphonic stuff, though marching band was pretty grueling...
Near-work photo from a more relaxed time, by Lloyd Park
(It's funny, at first I captioned this as 'from a simpler time', but the beauty of then was that it was more complex, but in enjoyable ways.)
December 2, 2019
November 22, 2019
Two views from the Annual JP Dog Parade - JP honk was able to muster a quintet- the first is actually a screenshot from a video I took at the head --
Not sure who took the second, but they say it's #nofilter - lovely foliage and vibrant band outfits...
Today I am marching in solidarity with the spooky skeletons that are inside us all, waiting to get out. #justwait
JP Honk played PRONK!
October 14, 2019
Open Photo GalleryI liked the more serious look as I model my outfit...
There was a brigade of massive aliens that danced with School of Honk, including this terrific giant ape...
After our set JP Honk met its twin band, Unity Street Band from Syracuse NY - same color scheme and some overlap in music! We joined forces for the parade.
Plezi Rara at the PRONK ampitheater where JP Ponk played in the afternoon... they got some nice light!
Fun with the new iPhone's night stuff (I'm also really digging its wideangle lens...)
BABAM closing yesterday's climate strike at the Boston Statehouse:
Saturday was a busy day for JP Honk... we started with the Augment parade- here's a close up of my favorite tuba accessory, the piles of cheap Mardi Gras style beads, $1 for about a dozen strands at Dollar Tree...
photo from Now+There's twitter feed that has some good photos. Also, see Donna Dodson's video of the band.
Oh and earlier that day I posted this, with my usual selfie joke "feeling cute, might delete later" which is two half-lies.
Today at the Friendshipworks Walk to End Elder Isolation - a lesson in photographic perspective, and why you usually put the tuba player and the horn behind the arc not where it angles around... it kind of towers over everyone!
May 19, 2019
April 26, 2019
A few weeks ago BABAM supported Summer Street Brass Band in helping out MASSCreative's Arts Advocacy Day....
April 9, 2019
nbd just jamming out the new year with Keytar Bear
--Grinchy, wealthy universities have a change of heart and start making PILOT payments in City Hall Christmas fable
December 7, 2018
BABAM Takes Music To The Streets from Julia Maruca on Vimeo.
I was delighted by this mural inside the Rosebud near Davis Square-
"Al Cass FAST" was my favorite valve oil even back in Cleveland - the rocketship and the way it proudly displayed its hometown really appealed to me, along with the"ODORLESS / WEATHER CONSCIOUS / DOES NOT SEPARATE" copy on the bottle, from an era when products sold themselves as much as facts as feelings. According to Wikipedia
[Al Cass] was the manufacturer and creator of the "FAST" valve/slide/key oil combination for brass instruments, which has been considered the industry standard since inception. It was developed after 18 months of R&D at the request and final approval of Dizzy Gillespie.which is super hip.
Melissa's got a milestone birthday coming up, and I conspired with Anna H. and crew to have Anna's "Pre-Thanksgiving Cocktail Party" convert into a full-on surprise party once Melissa and I came over from seeing Patton Oswalt-- I sweet-talked a subset of JP Honk into lying in wait, and stashed my tuba there that afternoon...
November 18, 2018
We did "Space Cadet", "Mercy Mercy Mercy", and then a "Little Light of Mine" singalong:
Here friends made up a photocake:
Open Photo GalleryI think the cake photo is a crop of this one:
But her "Anna Nicole Smith" costume photo was in the running:
Playing tuba with Veterans for Peace on Armistice Day:
My friend Hannah saw me and some folk entertaining at Elizabeth Warren's election night shindig:
November 7, 2018
October 31, 2018
Open Photo GalleryMarching with City Life / Vida Urbana to protest ghoulish landlord shenanigans--
Soldiers in reanimated skeleton armies would probably have to use sign language.
A few weeks ago at the Maker's Fair at the Boston Children's Museum:
October 29, 2018
--Shot at yesterday's rally for Transgender rights - If you live in MA Vote Yes on 3, please. If you know + like or love a TG person, or you don't but you're willing to believe the world is more complex than you mighta guessed, it's the humane thing to do.
HONK portrait by Steve Jewett
PRONK portrait by Daniela G
photo by Jason Victor Rosenman, on PARKing Day
Shaunalynn parade led a parade where brass sousaphones were in full effect ...
August 19, 2018
Two shots from today's alt-right counterprotest-- Marie and my mom's old trombone, and then our merry little crew (not shown, Dave B who set it up at the last minute and then did his double slide whistle). Things were at a standstill, with the remainders of the 30-odd alt-righters standing there in their army helmets staring at the 300-odd counter-protestors chanting anti-Nazi thoughts at them, then the band (who had been doing a lot of chant backing and the odd song) stepped forward and backed a kind of chanting-crowd/honk-band duet, and then shortly thereafter the police said "enough" and shoo'd away the alt-righters. (I guess they try to spin it as they left the left there and went off to bunker hill, but it was clearly not a victory for them.) Anyway, timing might've been a coincidence but maybe not! I believe both Antifa and the alt-right-folk were prohibited from amplified music by the police, which means HONK! style groups like BABAM give the left a current asymmetrical advantage.
August 18, 2018
Marie and my mom's old trombone!
with BABAM at a Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence fundraiser cabaret at Club Cafe:
There's a new Facebook page, Can It Fit a Sousaphone? talking about what horns can fit into what cars. They did some outreach to my company CarGurus, and we did some cross-promotion with them.
August 3, 2018
Very flattering lens. Also last night we were reminded my car can fit TWO tubas...
On my devblog, the crushing equalizing of modern social mediums.
The Best TV Episodes of the past century. I liked the UI of this, with nicely sized clips starting as they scroll into view.
I always love lists of hard to translate words - this one has some especially important-to-that-culture ones.
JP Honk @ JP Porchfest 2018 doing Mercy Mercy Mercy -
July 11, 2018
from a playlist of six videos from new member Sam
Photo by Jonathan Richmond
More photos here (on FB, but works even in an incognito window)
Got on page B7 of the Boston Globe, reporting on a Cosecha anti-family-separation rally that BABAM! backed.
Had I know I'd'a worn a better T-shirt than Rick and Morty.
Happy Flag Day Dedham
BABAM ran into Wally before marching Boston Pride
June 9, 2018
April 18, 2018
--An old shot, but not sure it ever got on the site. A relatively rare tuba shot from the last few years in that I'm not playing Scheiny - trying out one of the School of Honk's polka dot horns.
The Harvard Crimson did a short article on BABAM
Greg Cook took photos of BABAM! and Second Line and Boycott playing for HONK! volunteers at Aeronaut.
Good day for the middle aged tubist getting ready for the Quincy Christmas Parade
The Globe had a reverse angle from yesterday's shot, where BABAM! marched with Veterans for Peace
JP Honk played the wedding of Lilia + Jason yesterday at the arboretum...
October 22, 2017
Open Photo Gallery
never let the sousaphone player alone with his horn and the rest of the champagne, tho (photo by Candace)
Scenes from the Revels RiverSing:
After a long beautiful 4 gig weekend - Mill City Grows in Lowell, Prospect Hill block party, Boston Makers at the Children's Museum, and the Revels RiverSing parade.
can i get a little squee for my super-niece cora and my tuba scheiny?
My horn "Scheiny" and a little friend, Matt M's pocket trumpet:
I can't say enough that the folks playing in the protest band today were HEROES, going (nearly) nonstop for a good 4 hours, elevating and uplifting the entire event, sounding like a million bucks. Anyone who knows any of these Honkers, feel free to pass along my heartfelt thanks.Posted by Sarah Darling on Saturday, August 19, 2017