The California Honeydrops
In 2022, the California Honeydrops celebrate their fourteenth year together with their newest release of their latest studio album, Soft Spot. “This record is all about love and good lovin’ and other things that matter,” says frontman, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Lech Wierzynski of the new LP, which exhibits the Honeydrops’ unique musical style that draws from roots, Bay Area R&B, Southern soul, Delta blues, and New Orleans second line. “We continued the Honeydrops’ album tradition of bringing special musical guests to bless the studio with their magic,” adds drummer Ben Malament. “Sousaphones, strings, space echoes—it’s all here.” Soft Spot comes on the heels of Covers from the Cave, a cover album born out of pandemic livestream videos; live albums Remember When: Vol. 3 and Honeydrops Live 2019; and their first-ever double-album, Call It Home: Vol 1 & 2, in 2018, which No Depression called “a fun-filled, funky goodie basket for all occasions.”
This year has also brought the Honeydrops’ return to live music with a fall national tour, their first headlining date at Red Rocks, as well as performances at festivals across the country including FloydFest, High Sierra, and Burning Man. Known for bringing vibrant energy and infectious dance-party vibes to their shows, the Honeydrops have taken the party all over the world, touring widely across North America, Europe, and Australia. In 2016 and 2017, the Honeydrops were honored to play with Bonnie Raitt on her North America release tour, and in the past have been privileged to support the likes of B.B. King, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Guy, and Dr. John. Whether in those high-profile performances or in more intimate venues where the band can leave the stage and get down on the dance floor themselves, the California Honeydrops’ shared vision and purpose remain: to make the audience dance and sing—and to give back. Since 2019, the band has used its “Spreadin’ Honey Project” to partner with local nonprofits in each city they visit on tour, raising awareness and funds for causes such as food banks, homeless shelters, youth centers, disaster relief efforts, and social justice initiatives.
The band has come a long way since Wierzynski and Malament started busking in an Oakland, California, subway station, but they’ve stayed true to that organic, street-level feel. Wierzynski was born in Warsaw, Poland, and raised by Polish political refugees. He learned his vocal stylings from contraband American recordings of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong, and developed them later at Oberlin College and in Oakland’s club circuit. With the additions of Malament on drums, Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on keyboards, and Beau Bradbury on bass, the Honeydrops have cultivated a powerful full-band sound to support Wierzynski’s vocals. More like parties than traditional concerts, their shows feature extensive off-stage jamming and crowd interaction. “The whole point is to erase the boundaries between the crowd and us,” Wierzynski says. “We don’t make setlists. We want requests. We want crowd involvement and to make people become a part of the whole thing by dancing along, singing, and generally coming out of their shells.”