Photos by: Miranda Hontz
Words by: Leon Hontz
Full disclosure, I am not the intended audience for the music performed Thursday night at The Hamilton. Despite my southern upbringing, I never developed a taste for Country music. I frequently don’t relate to the subject matter and when I am exposed to songs from the genre it is often of the formulaic overproduced variety. However, talent and showmanship like that displayed on the 25th of June are never lost on me and HoneyHoney made a great case for reevaluating my perceptions of the genre.
Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line opened the evening by getting the crowd on their feet and dancing the Tennessee Two-Step. Apparently DC crowds do like to dance; you just have to tell them to (way to be compliant folks). The New Jersey born, Nashville based front woman and her band produce a refined Country sound that serves them well as long as they are keeping the music loud and fun. The connection between the band and the crowd was undeniable when they were playing their unrestrained honky-tonk while their slower songs seemed forced and hollow. In the end, I had to accept that I am not this music’s intended audience even if I was treated to the longest banjo solo I’ve ever witnessed. The rest of the crowd seemed genuinely pleased and impressed, and that has to count for something.
While their opener stayed pretty firmly entrenched in their Country roots, HoneyHoney seeks a sound that truly represents the pan-genre promise of Americana music. HoneyHoney’s sound is practically indefinable. There is a constantly surprising variety and complexity to their music. They are equally adept at channeling all the grit and attitude of a snarling dog with layers of crunchy rock/blues riffs over plinking banjo as they are with blending guitar and fiddle sweetly in their softer moments.
Benjamin Jaffe and Suzanne Santo are wonderful frontspeople (I just made that up) whose talent extends beyond their music to the way that they engage and interact with the crowd. They are storytellers and entertainers who draw you in during and between their songs, and the stories they tell are rich and diverse. Something must also be said for the honesty of HoneyHoney’s music. The contents of their songs are as vivid and complex as their musicality, and they maintain an unabashed pragmatism that just feels human.
With a sound as thick and viscous as their namesake, HoneyHoney’s set was rich and satisfying. A true example of the blurred influences and inspirational bloodlines of the Americana genre of music, HoneyHoney creates a rich sonic tapestry that is innovative while consistently harkening to its varied roots. HoneyHoney will be touring throughout the summer.