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California Honeydrops Crowd-Sources Audience Energy

Steep Ravine, Steady 45s and Honeydrops to perform at SOhO

California Honeydrops
California Honeydrops (Photo via SOhO Restaurant)

The California Honeydrops don’t just play music — they throw parties, and the next one is at 9 p.m. May 18 and 19 at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club, 1221 State St. #205, Santa Barbara.

Led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lech Wierzynski, and drawing on diverse musical influences from Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, and New Orleans second-line, the Honeydrops bring energy and dance-party vibes to their shows.

The group has played festivals and toured across North America, Europe and Australia. In 2016 the Honeydrops supported Bonnie Raitt on her North America release tour, and in the past has support B.B. King, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Guy, and Dr. John.

Whether in high-profile performances or in more intimate venues where the band itself can leave the stage and get down on the dance floor, the California Honeydrops’ shared vision and purpose remain: to make the audience dance and sing.

The group has come a long way since guitarist and trumpeter Lech Wierzynkski and drummer Ben Malament started busking in an Oakland subway station, but the band has stayed true to that organic, street-level feel.

Listening to Lech sing, it can be a surprise that he 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 later at Oberlin College and on the club circuit.

With the additions of Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on keyboards, and Beau Bradbury on bass, the Honeydrops has built a full-band sound to support Wierzynski’s vocals. Their shows feature off-stage jamming and crowd interaction.

“The whole point is to erase the boundaries between the crowd and us,” Wierzynski said. “We don't make setlists. We want requests. We want crowd involvement, to make people become a part of the whole thing by dancing along, singing, picking the songs and generally coming out of their shells.”

In addition to California Honeydrops, SOhO will host the group Steady 45s on May 18.

Also performing SOhO on May 19 will be Steep Ravine, a band known for its soulful tunes and fiery instrumentals that take acoustic music in new stylistic directions.

Blending poetic lyricism and string-playing ingenuity, the San Francisco-based band has been praised for its debut album of original music, Trampin' On.

Following the album's release, Steep Ravine performed at festivals including High Sierra Music Festival, Four Corners Folk Festival, Outside Lands and Strawberry Music Festival.

Tickets for both concerts are $15 in advance, $18 at door. Call 962-7776 ext. 6 for reservations. Tickets available at The events are for those age 21 and over.

— Kirk Reed for SOhO.

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