Digging deep into the roots of American music, The California Honeydrops embrace the traditions of Blues, Gospel, Second Line New Orleans Jazz, and early R&B. With stellar performances of traditional material as well as their own innovative music, The California Honeydrops get people out of their seats and onto the floor, dancing, sweating, and singing along.
Since their formation 4 years ago in the subway stations of Oakland, CA, The California Honeydrops have completed 6 European tours, spread honey on crowds throughout the US, and recorded 2 full length albums of original music, all without the help of a record label or major booking agency. Their secret? An irresistible sound that blends the energy and intimacy of a street performance, undeniable talent and musicianship, and the soul and fervor of a spiritual street parade.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, band leader and front man Lech Wierzynski began playing blues and jazz as a teenager at after-hours jam sessions in Washington D.C. After studying trumpet with Marcus Belgrave (Ray Charles), Lech continued his career after moving to Oakland, honing his craft with some of the biggest names in American music, such as Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks, and Jackie Payne, allowing Lech to grow equally as a trumpeter, singer, and guitarist.
The vibrant rhythm section of The California Honeydrops is fueled by the unprecedented energy of saxophonist Johnny Bones (Eddie Palmiere, Nell Carter, Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums), and drummer Ben Malament (Terry Reid, The Marvelettes, The Jelly Roll Souls). Currently touring with The CA Honeydrops is Doug Stuart on bass, and Charles Hickox on keys.
See them perform once, and you won’t be surprised why they were voted the SF Bay Area’s “Best Soul/R&B Band”. Nominated for “Best New Artist” by the National Blues Foundation (2009), and recently receiving 5 East Bay Express Reader’s Poll awards (2011) including “Best Band”, “Best Album”, and “Best Musician”, with a highly anticipated live album due to release in late 2011 and an upcoming East Coast tour, consider The California Honeydrops to be unstoppable!
For more info on upcoming performances, recordings, and more, please visit www.cahoneydrops.com
...The California Honeydrops, from Oakland, are the most refreshing act to roll down the blues highway in some time. Few groups before them have melded so many strains of African American music into such a seamless whole...
- Lee Hildebrand, Living Blues Magazine, Livingblues.com
...We were lucky enough to host The California Honeydrops in July. We were astonished by their amazing performance, not to mention attendance. It was a rocking house! We will happily host them again...
- Erik Siebert, Yoshi's Jazz Club, Oakland, CA, http://www.yoshis.com
...The California Honeydrops!They are the bomb, and I am the lucky one who gets to introduce them to a national audience. They will make me sound good. It is a very cool disc...
- Bill Wax, Proprietor of Low-Fi’s Bar & Grill, Sirius/XM, “Juke Joint” w/ Bill Wax (M-F, 3-6pm Eastern), Request line:1866-267-0454
Lech Wierzynski - lead vocals, guitar, trumpet
Benjamin Malament - drums, vocals, washboard
Chris Burns - piano, keyboards
Seth Ford-Young - bass, vocals
Johnny Bones - saxophones
*When It Was Wrong
Let It Go
Same Ol', Same OI'
All Them Things
*Lovin' Like This
It Ain't Hard To Tell
Hell Yes, I Cheated
Miss Louise 03:11
Soul Tub 06:10
All You Got To Do 04:35
Bye Bye Baby, I'm Gone 02:41
Honeydrops Theme 02:45
Squeezy Breezy 02:32
In My Dreams 03:16
Help Me Now 03:55
All Night Long 04:24
Cry For Me 03:30
Soul Tub (Reprise) 04:20
Interview with Lech - Press Democrat
[+ Show ]
‘‘We've played basements, rooftops, warehouses, barns, backyards, campgrounds,” says Lech Wierzynski...‘‘We've played basements, rooftops, warehouses, barns, backyards, campgrounds,” says Lech Wierzynski, rattling off all the funky Bay Area venues his California Honeydrops have survived.
After four years, the hard work and slumming is starting to pay off. The Oakland retro-soul and R&B outfit was just voted “Best Band” in the East Bay Express. In 2009, SF Weekly named them “Best Soul/R&B Band” in the Bay Area.
Born in Poland and raised in Chicago and Washington, D.C., Wierzynski may be one of the unlikeliest soul singers to pick up the microphone. But listen to him belt out “Hell Yes I Cheated” on the band's new album, “Spreading Honey,” and it's hard not to be won over.
He formed the band — originally just a washtub bass, washboard and guitar — as a trio that busked at BART stations, playing everything from Ray Charles to old country blues and funk.
Before the California Honeydrops roll through the Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival this weekend, Wierzynski took time out to chat about retro music, Poland and vacuum cleaners:
Q: I just saw a clip of you guys performing on Polish TV. How cool was that to bring it back to your homeland?
A: It was great. They dug the music. They like to see Polish people doing well abroad and then coming back home. That makes them happy.
Q: What's your first musical memory?
A: Wow. I was 2 years old and trying to play guitar on a vacuum cleaner. It was some Polish third-wave ska band from the '80s. My brother knew all the words and I was just yelling. Funny, I didn't start playing guitar until 20 years later.
Q: You had to graduate from the Hoover first.
A: Yeah, I went from the vacuum cleaner straight to the trumpet. I figured out you could blow into it.
Q: What was it about soul and R&B that sucked you in?
A: Listening to oldies radio — Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and The Supremes in Chicago. I also remember riding my bike and hearing gospel in the neighborhood. My dad listened to a lot of jazz. It was forbidden music. The communist regime (in Poland) had outlawed listening to jazz and foreign radio. He was into the really old New Orleans stuff.
Q: Do you ever wish you were born in another era?
A: Ah man, I'm done with that. There were times when I was like that. If you wanna make museum music, then you can try to recreate exactly what you've been hearing on the records. But if you wanna make music and live and be happy, you gotta accept where you're at.
Q: How gratifying has it been to get the recognition and awards in Bay Area weeklies?
A: That's the fans right there voting for you. They're super loyal and they want to see us succeed and get bigger. That's a great feeling and that's what's kept us going through some of the hard times. The Bay Area has been great to this weird little band playing weird instruments in weird venues.
Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014, firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @becksay.
Fillmore Jazz Festival Review
[+ Show ]
A sea of sun-drenched people flowed along Fillmore Street on Saturday, partaking of the musical and ...A sea of sun-drenched people flowed along Fillmore Street on Saturday, partaking of the musical and gustatory pleasures — not to mention the beer, wine and margaritas — served up by San Francisco’s biggest street bash. Blues and barbecued oysters. Fried catfish and Nigerian folk songs. Those were some of the sounds and scents that wafted through the air at the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival, a swinging two-day affair that stretches from Jackson Street in tony Pacific Heights down to Eddy Street in the gritty heart of the Fillmore District.
With music pouring from three stages, and unscheduled street performers popping up unexpectedly, the best way to take in the festival was to simply float and follow your ears. Mine took me to the corner of Fillmore and California streets, where the sensational California Honeydrops were playing an original mix of New Orleans R&B and jazz, blues, soul, and gospel music. A quintet that rocks, struts and sways, the band is led by the Polish-born Lech Wierzynski, a soulful singer with a great falsetto. He plays guitar and good Louis Armstrong-style trumpet, riffing joyously with tenor saxophonist Johnny Bones.
The California Honeydrops
“I heard you a few blocks away and thought you were black,” an admiring African-American woman told Wierzynski after the show. “Man, you’ve got soul.” The blue-eyed singer beamed.
The Honeydrops lit up the big crowd — a multicultural mob that included naval officers and tattooed hipsters — with their good-time music. They dug into Chuck Berry and Fats Domino grooves, early-jazz blues, a rousing version of Wilson Pickett’s Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You, and a dancing original called Breakdown that married South African township jive with New Orleans second-line parade music.
Speaking of which, a second-line street band called the Brass Boppers seemed to appear out of nowhere just south of Geary Boulevard, one of several unexpected delights. Another was the terrific blues guitarist and singer playing in front of Rassela’s Jazz Club and Restaurant. A blues-loving Spaniard named Adrian Costa, he drew a circle of admirers, who stuffed dollar bills in his hat and snapped up his CDs.
Find press clips on Flickr!
[+ Show ]
...The influences from this band are heavily rooted in artists from the Stax theater, New Orleans h......The influences from this band are heavily rooted in artists from the Stax theater, New Orleans horny funk, crossroad country Blues, and woodshed honky tonks...The openness & youthfulness of the music takes you back to a time when music was made for fun and not for monetary gain...
Blues & Rhythm - The Gospel Truth (Leeds,UK), Bluesandrhythm.co.uk
[+ Show ]
...An amalgam of blues, jug band sounds, vintage jazz, rock-n-roll, and classy R&B. Good timin’ musi......An amalgam of blues, jug band sounds, vintage jazz, rock-n-roll, and classy R&B. Good timin’ music par excellence...
Living Blues Magazine, Livingblues.com
[+ Show ]
...The California Honeydrops, from Oakland, are the most refreshing act to roll down the blues highw......The California Honeydrops, from Oakland, are the most refreshing act to roll down the blues highway in some time. Few groups before them have melded so many strains of African American music into such a seamless whole...
Elmore Magazine, Elmoremagazine.com
[+ Show ]
...Oakland’s The California Honeydrops, find themselves firmly rooted in the African-American music ......Oakland’s The California Honeydrops, find themselves firmly rooted in the African-American music tradition...unique arrangements make their debut CD SOUL TUB!, hard to place in genre and time. “Miss Louise” jives like a lost Chuck Berry with a soaring trumpet line...”All You Got To Do” delivers some sad soul with off-kilter harmonies straight from the pews...
Sirius/XM, “Juke Joint” w/ Bill Wax
[+ Show ]
...The California Honeydrops!They are the bomb, and I am the lucky one who gets to introduce them to......The California Honeydrops!They are the bomb, and I am the lucky one who gets to introduce them to a national audience. They will make me sound good. It is a very cool disc...
Il Popolo del Blues (Firenze, IT), Ilpopolodeblues.com
[+ Show ]
...The “drops of honey in California” finely move between blues, swing, jazz, and atmosphere flashes......The “drops of honey in California” finely move between blues, swing, jazz, and atmosphere flashes of soul. All this mixed with music and joy...
Our average show consists of two 45min.-1 hour sets. They usually look like this.
Up Above My Head (Trad. Gospel, accapella)
Junker's Blues (Traditional with Original Arrangement)
When It Was Wrong (Original)
Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You (Wilson Pickett)
Pumpkin Pie (Original)
Carolina Peach (Original)
Drunk (Jimmy Liggins)
All I Want To Do (Original)
Never Found Me A Girl (Al Green)
Ms. Louise (Original)
You Rascal You (Trad. New Orleans Second Line)
All You Got To Do (Original)
All Them Things (Original)
Like This Like That (Original)
Cry For Me (Original)
I Got A Woman (Ray Charles)
PDF RiderStage Plot & Specs
There are no upcoming dates at this time.