By Carlee Wright
January 9th, 2013
Five years ago, the California Honeydrops got their start in the subway stations of Oakland where they would set out a tip jar and play for people.
As tribute to their street roots, they call their style of music “Street Corner Soul,” and they bring their original street energy to their shows, said drummer and founding member Ben Malament.
Blending traditions of blues, gospel, jazz and R&B, the band creates innovative music utilizing some nontraditional instruments, such as a gutbucket bass, jug and washboard. Additionally, each member’s diverse background contributes to the band’s fun, engaging, soulful sound as they draw on southern soul, Americana and street music.
“We mix our own original music with covers that many people may not know, coming from blues, R&B and New Orleans second line,” Malament said. “No matter what we play, even if it’s with electric bass and keyboards, or washboard and guitar, we like to get the horns blaring, and we want to know that the crowd is feeling it. That helps us feel it too! Most of the time, we end up jumping off stage and going straight to the people, making a ‘street party’ scene in the middle of the club.”
The band that began as street performers playing for tips quickly developed a following and began playing club parties and dances. From there, they moved on to festivals across America and Europe. This year, they hope to return to some of those festivals, as well as visiting new ones in countries they have yet to visit, such as Mexico, Malament said.
“The music for us isn’t just about giant concerts with mega sound systems and lights. It’s about quality of life! Real musicians playing real live music and real people just being able to go out and enjoy themselves,” Malament said.