4 things to know about The California Honeydrops before Hot Summer Nights on Tuesday
The Hot Summer Nights concert series returns in August with more free shows at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. On Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m., The California Honeydrops will bring soul, funk and jazz with fans across various music festivals.
Here are four things to know about The California Honeydrops before heading to the show.
1. The band went from busking on the street to making it big.
Hailing from Oakland, Calif., The California Honeydrops got their start 10 years ago. In the early days, lead singer Lech Wierzynski and percussionist Ben Malament were street performers in San Francisco during the day before playing a show at a club in the evening.
“We’d play in the BART stations,” Malament said. “We’d bring a little tub base, the soul tub, and sing our songs and make our little burrito and milkshake scratch.”
Playing for passersby helped the band hone their performance skills and learn how to keep the crowd engaged.
“Being close to the people was really important for us,” Malament said. “[When they] don’t know who the hell you are, you have to keep them interested…You can’t just sit there and expect people to think you’re cool.”
2. The Honeydrops seamlessly blend R&B, soul, funk and blues.
The group’s influences include a diverse array of influences, including everything from Delta blues to New Orleans-style jazz. Malament said the band strives to express the same vitality of their live shows when recording an album in the studio.
“We just recorded a [new] EP,” Malament said. “We were going for an old record sound…[We like to] play so there’s life in it, not just relying on studio tricks.”
3. Bonnie Raitt is a fan.
For the past few years, the band has been touring with Bonnie Raitt. On their 2018 album, “Call It Home: Vol. 1 & 2,” Raitt sings on the title track.
Malament said working with Raitt was, “…one of the most fun times we’ve had in the studio.”
“[On tour] we would be rehearsing in the dressing room and Bonnie would come in and sing with us,” Malament said. “We told her, ‘man, Bonnie, you sound good. You gotta come in and record with us.’ She’s an awesome, down-home kind of person…We would sit [in the studio] for hours, listening to her stories and laughing.”
4. The band’s motto is “stay fresh, have fun.”
After performing together for a decade, the group’s members like to remind themselves to “have fun with it,” Malament said.
“Honestly for the band, that’s what’s important and what’s kept us alive for 10 years,” Malament said.
The band still considers Oakland its home base, but the increased cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area has made it a challenge for many musicians, including The Honeydrops, to keep being a part of the city’s vibrant music scene.
“We love the Bay Area,” Malament said. “We will definitely try to hang on here as long as possible.”