Oakland-based five-piece bluesy soul machine The California Honeydrops performed at The Basement in Nashville recently; on tour in support of their latest release, A River’s Invitation, The Honeydrops have been tearing up the highways, with an itinerary packed full of summer festival performances, a stop at the legendary Burning Man festival, and not one, but two hometown album release shows.
The album was produced by the band, recorded in frontman and founding member Lech Wierzynski’s living room, and drew on musical influences as diverse as Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, New Orleans second-line, gospel and psychedelic groove.
The Basement, always a cozy and intimate setting, was packed out with Honeydrops fans that evening. The band took the stage, each member uniquely behatted and eager to get the festivities started. Frontman Wierzynski, a brightly perpetual smile on his face, said “Let’s play the blues. Why not?” The band fell into an easy groove, and the chemistry was palpable between the members. Wierzynski’s smooth and silky voice brought the crowd out of their seats and closer to each other and the stage, essentially erasing the imaginary line between The Honeydrops and the audience; Wierzynski beckoned them even closer, suggested they pass the chairs up front and out of the way, and the audience obliged.
As multi-instrumentalist Wierzynski wowed on the trumpet and the guitar, people shimmied and swayed like it was second nature as the sound of New Orleans jazz filled the crowded space. The band consistently made the audience a part of the performance with sing-alongs and call and answer participation, which of course, sounded so very good. We’re all musicians here in Nashville, y’all.
If you missed seeing them, don’t fret! The Honeydrops have some dates left, so go see this phenomenal group if you can.
[These photographs were taken by the incomparable Wesley Duffee-Braun. You can see more of his genius on display a www.wesleyduffeebraun.com.]