Words by Corinne Casella | Photos by Jeremy Gordon

Rounding out a successful tour supporting Bonnie Raitt, The California Honeydrops showed no signs of dragging during their two set gig at The Knitting Factory on April 3rd. On an unseasonably cold spring night, the band brought their own kind of heat. From roots, to funk, to soul, the genre bending quintet couples their vocal harmonies with a fresh New Orleans style.

Bandleader and multi-instrumentalist, Lech Wierzynkski alternates between pitch perfect vocals, guitar and trumpet. Wierzynkski, along with drummer Ben Malament, Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on barrelhouse-style keys and Beau Bradbury on bass, brought a full bodied sound to their vibrant live performance.

Enlivening the show with audience participation, call and response, and an energetic execution, the band’s natural enthusiasm infected the crowd. Wierzynkski promised a long night of music – and he delivered and then some. Performing popular standards such as ‘Like You Mean It,’ ‘Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You,’ they set the standard for the evening.

The band’s origins started with Wierzynski and Malament busking in subways, an experience they recreated with the duo performing an organic version of ‘Pumpkin Pie,’ accompanied by Malament’s rousing solo on the washboard. Bringing authentic second-line music to Brooklyn is no easy feat, but during a memorable cover of Rebirth Brass Band’s Mardi Gras anthem ‘Do Watcha Wanna,’ the band did just that. Other highlights included a high-energy performance of ‘Soul Tub,’ a soulful take on Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People Get Ready,’ and a funkified version of R. Kelly’s ‘Bump N’ Grind.’


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