Peter Lyons

Honk!Tx 2014

March 31, 2014

So Gora Gora Orkestar, in our entirety, traveled to Austin, Tx recently for Honk!Tx 2014, a festival of community street bands. This was my second HonkTx and Tung has been to all four of them.

I flew out Thursday morning, happily doing an hour of billable consulting work from the airport terminal. My inescapable pattern is I run late anything I have to do directly following a work session. In this case, that would be my flight. I broke concentration 20 minutes before take-off and was the last passenger to board. There was exactly one miniature size overhead bin open with just enough room for my alto sax hard case, so I tossed it up there and grabbed my seat like a smooth criminal.

The bus from the airport to my host's house was mostly easy but I missed one departing bus while I rectified the discrepancy between the fare information on the sign and what I had read elsewhere, and then I missed my transfer because I was around the corner from the correct stop and I had to stand there on the sidewalk at a very long red light looking at my bus stopped at the light 15 yards passed the bus stop knowing they wouldn't allow me to board. But no bother as I had plenty of slack in my schedule.

I sat at the bus stop watching the brilliance of setting up a Sonic drive-in about 200 yards back from an extremely busy intersection with the longest red light time I have ever seen. In the 25 minutes I waited for my bus, I probably saw 10 cars sit at the light and then decide to bail and just pull in to Sonic instead.

When I got to my host's house, he was heavily involved in a shed construction project in the back yard, so I offered to help him make a run to the metal yard to pick up a batch of tubular steel beams. We loaded about 600 lbs worth of steel into the back of a Mazda wagon, strapped it down with ratchet straps, and drove away with the suspension almost fully compressed.

After unloading the steel I refreshed with a cold beer, changed out of my shirt which was now covered in dark black grease and metal filings from the steel, and went to meet Michael to go in search of BBQ.

Michael and I biked to Ruby's BBQ for a large meal followed by Rita's frozen custard and a bit of walking around that neighborhood. Then we headed to Red 7 to meet up with a few other band members who needed to eat before heading into the Brass Band Blitz.

At the Blitz we reunited with our Honk buddies from across the nation and general merriment ensured.

Friday morning it was time for beermosas and some rehearsal. Then we eventually biked over toward South Congress for our community outreach gig. This year it was Alice who experienced immediate loaner bike malfunction and she had to coast/walk the last bit after her tire began to bubble. We stopped for espresso then played a gig at the Boys and Girls Club where Tung went into full-on band teacher mode.

Then it was back to South Congress for the evening's shows. We got some food truck food and Alice ordered an amazing pork chop sandwich from the best food truck in Austin (according to yelp, and it seemed clearly justified). We played outside the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, which was a really fun gig. Then I caught a bit of Yes Ma'am Brass Band at The Snack Bar and we hung out most of the evening in The Snack Bar lounge. Then GGO and ENSMB headed north to a karaoke bar. I hung out there as long as I could reasonably manage then biked home.

Saturday was the outdoor festival and we started things off at noon. Then we went and got some photos taken for the The Book of Honk. We ate some lunch and watched bands all afternoon before a killing set at The Spider House.

Sunday we did the parade and the all-band review. Then we headed to Banger's for an awesome multi-band dinner. We ate outdoors all on a giant row of picnic tables. The food and drink were delicious. I had a BBQ bacon and shrimp sausage with cheese grits that was as good as it sounds. Afterward we biked a good ways to another venue for the HonkTx 2014 Funeral event. GGO played a short set as did a handful of other bands.

The Problem

So Monday morning we had a corporate gig to play at the Energy Thought Summit conference downtown. Here's a video of Apple co-Founder and legendary geek Steve Wozniak arriving in a Telsa and riding a Segway to the stage while GGO plays the music from Super Mario Brothers.

However, we found out that Michael never came home Sunday night and had left his phone and his bass drum at our host 's house. We were able to get a last-minute bass drum sub for the gig, but then we all started to get increasingly worried about Michael's whereabouts with each passing hour into the day.

Kate, Maggie, Raptor, Tuba Mike, and I went and got amazing BBQ lunch at Lambert's by the lake. Then we went for a long walk around the lake. The Breana picked us up and we got some drinks before heading to the airport.

At some point later Monday I guess Tung got in touch with Michael's family and eventually the contacted the police and filed a missing person report. Michael was not seen in Austin again and we were all worried sick. On Tuesday, his mother reported that he had been spotted in Houston, which gave us some relief that he was at least physically OK, but he remained missing until Thursday when somehow he ended up with his Aunt in Louisiana. We still haven't gotten the full details on exactly what happened, but now we know's he's back safe with his family, thankfully.

But other than that terrifying incident, Honk was an absolute blast. We have confirmed we will be going to Honk Fest West in Seattle in June and doing a west coast tour leading up to that, which should be amazing.