Home New music in our mailbox! New EPs from Honeybear, the Band and Old Beef Stringband

New EPs from Honeybear, the Band and Old Beef Stringband

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Gordy the moose reviews some of his favourite new submissions to the Roots Music Canada virtual mailbox.

Honeybear, the Band – I Was Wrong

The moment I pressed “play” on these guys’ Bandcamp page, I was transported to the era of Jackie Wilson and Ben E. King – so it was a pretty big surprise to surf over to the band’s website and find a bunch o’ white dudes staring back at me.

That’s some pretty good blue-eyed soul there, Honeybear.

But that’s not all you’ll find on this EP.

“Living in Three-Quarter Time” is a bit of whiskey-soaked country soul, and then the last three tracks are all instrumental. “Toad Rip” is pretty straight-up funk. “Dusty Bottoms” and “Tilt-A-Whirl” lean toward the swampier blues side of things.

That’s a lot of ground to cover in six tracks, but the sequencing makes it work.

Honeybear, the Band is a brand new band, formed just last year, but the members are all pro session players and sidemen, which might account for how straight-up good this debut EP is.

The keyboard player is none other than Mike Kenney, the guy who plays the organ for the Vancouver Canucks’ games.

Also, I have to give the guys credit for having a sense of humour. Judging by the images on their website, the band name appears to derive from those honeybears they sell in supermarkets. You know, the bear-shaped containers that honey comes in? The ones with the long spout on top?

If the goal is to evoke nostalgia, both the name and the music are doing it for me.

Old Beef Stringband – Ride Home

Nova Scotia’s Old Beef Stringband isn’t exactly revolutionizing the stringband sound, but this debut EP certainly establishes them as an act to keep an eye on.

For starters, they have a BIG sound for such a small ensemble, which is particularly pronounced on the trad number “Gospel Plough” and the closer, “The Love You Give,” which see the members playing fiddle, mandolin and guitar respectively while singing in three-part harmony. Dane George even adds foot percussion to the former track.

Secondly, they show off a lot of range on this five-song collection.

The EP opens with a singer-songwriter track, the title track, in fact, that showcases Ellen Kearney’s beautiful old timey vocals.

Next up, it’s fiddler Amy Lounder’s turn to shine on the rollicking instrumental number “Cynthia.”

Then it’s onto a bluesy cover of Asa Martin’s “Hot Sausage Mama.”

This trio has been honing its sound since 2017, so it’s little wonder that they’ve come out of the gate sounding so fully formed.

I don’t think it’s possible to have too many good stringbands. So welcome to the club, Old Beef! Hopefully we’ll catch you at a festival one of these days soon.

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