The Honey Dewdrops
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The Honey Dewdrops

Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
Band Americana Folk

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"Soundtrack Web Extra, The Honey Dewdrops, 09/16/2012"

So delicately, tenderly soft are the tracks of The Honey Dewdrops' Silver Lining that, even through headphones, it's not entirely cutting out the saxophone busker on the street below who is playing "My Favorite Things" for the bazillionth time. Still, this is soothing music. And it's pretty. And it's much, much more than that, when given a thorough listen.

Opening track "One Kind Word" leads with the vocal of Kagey Parrish, half of the onstage duo/off-stage couple. Parrish plays guitar and Laura Wortman plays banjo. They both sing, his voice a warm tenor, hers a dusky mezzo-soprano that seems at home in her lower range. There's a wistfulness, especially, to Wortman's vocal. On "Hills Of My Home," the lyrics about the loss of mountain habitat and culture ache against the simple backdrop of strings — though this is not Appalachian music in any traditional sense. At every turn it sounds fresh and newly imagined.

Pretty as the harmonies between Wortman and Parrish are, instrumental track, "Catawba" is a stand out. It takes some cues from old-time, the banjo in the lead role with a light and bouncy melody. The guitar follows the same finger-style pattern, but lower, serving as a bass to the banjo's bright voice.

The album's title track showcases deftly-balanced vocal arrangements and instrumentation. The lyrics, emotive and sweet, are offered up with uncluttered honesty. Forthright and true, the only flourish is the round-like approach the couple takes with the chorus. But even that is only as complex as it needs to be, and the song is left mostly to stand on its own considerable charms.

"Happiness" is another example of how effortlessly Wortman and Parrish marry sentiment with economic instrumental style. Silver Lining employs a less-is-more tact from start to finish. Each track is laid back, easing through blue-grey soundscapes.

There's no grandstanding, no pyrotechnics. (The record ends with the a cappella, near-spiritual "Bright Morning Star," so pure and burnished to a gleam that it sucks the air from the room.) Instead, it's a solid album with the kind of songs that, while resting neither squarely in Americana, folk, singer-songwriter or Appalachian classifications, is sure to be replayed often by fans of all of those genres. - Alli Marshall, Asheville Mountain Xpress


"Midweek Mail Call, New Folk Coverage, 06/21/2012"

Back in the world of hardcopy tradfolk comes a well-received album already making the midyear best-of lists: The Honey Dewdrops, a husband and wife duo from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains whose newest release Silver Lining evokes the warm sounds of hills and holler even as it puts forth a smashing set of original songs that tug at the heartstrings as effectively and as well as anything Gillian Welch and David Rawlings ever recorded. The lone cover on the album is but a coda, a beautiful, haunting a capella closer of trad track Bright Morning Stars – and these old bonus YouTube takes, on Utah Phillips’ Miner’s Lullaby and Bill Monroe’s Can’t You Hear Me Callin’, and the banjo and guitar featured in the couples’ hands on the cover art of this utterly stunning neo-traditional album, gives a decent sense of how those close high countrygrass harmonies sound up against the native strings, I suppose. But Silver Lining itself is truly sublime from start to end, and perhaps only the second perfect album we’ve found this year so far: head to their website ASAP to check it out. - Cover Lay Down


"The Honey Dewdrops, living the life, dewing what they love, 06/10/2012"

I stand in awe these days when people choose the path of any form of artistic endeavor, as technology has done one hell of a job in messing up what was once such an easy, albeit cheesy, business. You had an idea, you sold part of your soul to create it and take it to market, you sold the rest of your soul to sell the sizzle, and then you waited and prayed for money to rain down upon your house. Perhaps it was a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea. Today though, be it photography, film, painting, creative writing or music, you're like a cork in the ocean. You can beg your fans for funding, or hit up the trust fund. As a musician, you can roll up your sleeves and hit the road to play every nook and cranny, maybe sell a CD or two, pack it up, sleep on someone's floor and drive to the next hamlet and hit repeat. If you're good, and resourceful, and maybe have help from someone who knows the ropes, you might be able to start thinking about longevity.

Hailing from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Charlottesville, VA, the Honey Dewdrops are Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish.

That's the first line of their bio. They sound more authentic that 99.99% of the artists who make up this thing called popular music.

Together, writing and singing in the veins of folk and old country music, Laura and Kagey have been touring the country over the past 4 years and have appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion,” gained Folk Radio notoriety with a #1 album and have shared the stage with musical greats such as Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mary Gauthier, and Matt Flinner Trio.

Most marriages these days don't last four years, so already this is a unique and special partnership.

The Honey Dewdrops combine a high lonesome duet harmony vocal style with contagious energy, soulful new songs and a fresh angle. The result, with guitars, a banjo and a mandolin, is a sound that welcomes you in like a dear old friend. Warm and honest, the Dewdrops fill up a room with sound and spirit.

Forgive me for what I'm about to say, as I know it is a sin of some sort. But from their very first album and up until the recently released Silver Lining, their sound has constantly reminded me so much of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings that I'm always double checking the iPod display to check for sure. Yeah...shouldn't have to compare them, but there is a similarity here and I don't want to just skip over it. And it's a good thing, not something to cringe at. And it's not a replicated sound mind you, as if this was a tribute band, but something of their very own that just happens to make my particular ears recall someone else. You might think they remind you of Metallica or Sinatra. Who am I to say? (From Fiddlefreak: "Everyone (and their brother) mentions Gillian Welch in their promo blurbs, but these two really do fly in that rarified realm.")

So what do I mean by "living the life"? Here's six weeks in the life of Laura and Kagey, from their own blog:

"We drove 1,000 miles in one day just so we could get to see the Matt Flinner Trio perform near home. We couldn’t pass it up and we’re die-hard fans. We mastered our record in Baltimore the following weekend. Nick Sjostrom poured over every soundbyte and moved from digital to tape and then back to digital all in one weekend to perfect the new record. Jeff and Sue traveled over a thousand miles to help us complete everything and then tour with us for a few shows in the northeast. We finally met another hero, Bruce Molsky, in RI. Portland, ME and our dear friends Landace and Jed played host to us for several days where we stuffed ourselves with as much delicious food as we could afford. The new record came in the mail and we packaged up all the preorders and sent them off! Our car was broken into and robbed on a Saturday in Boston. On Sunday, a lovely lady called to let us know our stuff had been dropped off in her yard (sans microphone but everything else in tact). Another beautiful time in our favorite little northern town, Saranac Lake. Folk Alley previewed our record for a week- woot! We played 2 lovely, lovely CD Release shows in VA at Mockingbird and The Southern! Barry came on a weekend tour through DC and MD….. you get the picture, we’ve been busy and happy."

Don't they sound like fun people? I mean, I want to hang with them, maybe sit in on a song or two. So anyway, there's this long story I could share about how Silver Lining was recorded on a farm in Virginia, "atop a hill that looks east to Roanoke". I like the line in the press release about all their friends coming out to lend a hand, either contributing to the music or making bread and tea or uncorking wine bottles. And I especially like the tradition that this music is "to the spirit of the hills, to the handmade, community music that came before."

Like.
Like.
Like. - Ed Maxin, Blogger for No Depression


"Utne Monthly Reader"

“…songwriting that strives to honor the simplicity of its forebears.” - Utne Monthly Reader


"Hear it First, Folk Alley, 05/29/2012"

Following the well-laid tracks of contemporary Appalachian revivalists like Carolina Chocolate Drops and the late, great everybodyfields, The Honey Dewdrops emerge June 1 with a gem of a record titled Silver Lining.

The disc perfectly captures the spirit of the Blue Ridge foothills, feeling like a collection of tunes delivered late at night on someoneÂ’s front porch. Through just two voices, a guitar, and a banjo, Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish let go some beautiful and heartsick harmonies as they sing about working people's problems on songs like "Hills of My Home" (with lines like, "How long can this crop sustain us? In the end, where will we have to turn?") and love songs like the title track.

For the past four years, while promoting their previous two albums These Old Roots and If the Sun Will Shine, the DewdropsÂ’ dedication to steady touring has placed them in the company of folk music staples like A Prairie Home Companion and beloved bands like the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

No doubt inspired and influenced by all those experiences, Silver Lining explores life's little surprising complexities, nodding firmly now and then at folk music tradition (they, like the Wailin' Jennys and Abigail Washburn last year, cover "Bright Morning Stars" this time around). Nonetheless, aside from that one traditional diversion, Silver Lining is otherwise packed with their own originals, written to fit within a traditional culture and aesthetic.

In addition to the richly nuanced lyricism, the Dewdrops deliver two instrumentals ("Catawba" and "Somerset") one a jig, the other a slower ballad. Both dance on their own and feel like something you might overhear in the distance, across the hills. Both also showcase a pair of young pickers who appreciate the teasing musicality of restraint, but still know when to unleash their skills in a way which moves the song forward.

Fans of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will certainly appreciate this album, while those who knew and loved the Dewdrops first offerings are likely to see this as a deepening and sharpening of their craft.
- Kim Ruehl, Folk Alley


"Silver Lining, 05/15/2012"

Silver Lining, the third album from the Honey Dewdrops, will be released on June 1st. It’s a record that Fiddlefreak alluded to in this previous post — and we are the lucky ones with an advance copy! As we hoped, Silver Lining has emerged as a silky-smooth collection of original songs that take the listener on a pleasant ramble through the Blue Ridge Mountains of their home, while maintaining a healthy streak of modern sensibility. The flawless two-part harmonies of Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish are layered on a bedrock of flattop guitars, clawhammer banjo, and sparkling mandolin, with the occasional splash of bass or harmonium. When applied to songwriting of this caliber, and with such attention to detail, the building blocks of traditional mountain music ignite to form a magical and rootsy whole. Stand back and watch the Honey Dewdrops climb the folk music charts! - FiddleFreak


"Silver Lining, 07/13/2012"

I have made it no secret that I’m a mountain girl. I’d rather camp or visit family in the mountains than go to some of the world’s most beautiful cities. Why go when you can find some of the prettiest places on earth here? These hills and mountains of West Virginia and Virginia will always be a part of me just as the rivers that run through the land will always run through my veins. Roaming these ancient mountains, walking on the earth my ancestors have trod since the mid-1700s, and listening to the wind sing the songs they once sung is truly what I’m about. So, when I heard Silver Lining, the new album from Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish – the husband and wife duo who call themselves The Honey Dewdrops – an instant kinship was formed based on their music.

Founded on a solid base of guitar, clawhammer banjo, and mandolin, it’s this strong continuation of mountain tradition mixed with a slight modern sensibility that represents their Blue Ridge Mountain home as well as all of the other mountain ridges that make up this Appalachian region. Silver Lining is a mix of their own songs as well as a cover of The Seeger Sisters’ “Bright Morning Stars” that connects with me on a deep level, but it’s the powerful message of “Hills of My Home” that has affected me so greatly causing me to cry an ugly cry. It’s a song about the blight of mountaintop removal which has the capacity to politely and poetically persuade some of the staunchest Capitalist mine operators if only they had the heart to listen. It’s a song that would make our heroes of traditional folk music proud.

All-in-all, listening to Silver Lining is like listening to the songs of my heart. It’s an album that has a dual affect and effect on my soul. On one hand, these are songs that are capable of healing my homesick heart that longs to go back to the days and nights spent in the Alleghany mountains of Virginia; then, on the other, The Honey Dewdrops have the ability to break this aching heart that longs for those young and innocent days in those wonderful mountains. - April Wolfe, Common Folk Music


Discography

Silver Lining, 2012
These Old Roots, 2010
If the Sun Will Shine, 2009

Photos

Bio

The Honey Dewdrops are the Virginia-based roots duet of Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish. With a blend of new Americana and traditional folk music, they create inspired songs that are rooted in the experience and lives of people. Their sound is transcendent; they write all their own songs and yet no one could ever peg them as just another singer-songwriter couple, not when they’ve embedded a sparse Appalachian clarity on every track that is accessible to listeners everywhere. The songs they write shine with energy and emotion through intimate performances with a handful of acoustic instruments and tightly layered harmonies.

On stage, the Honey Dewdrops focus on dynamically blending the sounds of instruments and voices by singing and playing into a single microphone. There is a high lonesome quality to the way their voices blend that is familiar, yet the mixture is unique. Their music covers the ground between hand crafted folk songs, Appalachian ?ddle tunes, and a cappella spirituals. In their own way, the duo ?lls up a room with sound and feeling that lingers long after the show is over.

For their third album, Silver Lining, the Honey Dewdrops set up shop on an old farm in Catawba, Virginia, atop a hill that looks east to Roanoke, and invited their best friends over to help tune guitars, craft songs, cook savory meals, keep the creativity flowing, make hot tea, and uncork the wine. The result is a remarkably intimate recording that sounds so much larger than the two people at the center of the music. Beautiful harmonies flow together effortlessly, as quick as a second thought, and the acoustic instruments drift along the back roads of the music, between hills clouded with wood smoke. It’s music made in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, beholden not to ancient traditions, but to the spirit of the hills, to the handmade, community music that came before.

During the past four years of touring full-time and playing for audiences across America, The Honey Dewdrops’ down-to-earth, real-life approach to music has touched audiences broadly and brought them to high profile stages such as A Prairie Home Companion and gained them Folk Radio notoriety with two #1 albums.

“They sound more authentic than 99.99% of the artists who make up this thing called popular music… Like. Like. Like.” -Ed Maxin, Blogger for No Depression

“[Silver Lining] puts forth a smashing set of original songs that tug at the heartstrings.”-Cover Lay Down

“…listening to Silver Lining is like listening to the songs of my heart.”-April Wolfe, Common Folk Music Blog