Bucket O’ Honey Records, 2013. Honeybucket: https://www.facebook.com/Honeybucketmusic
The opening guitar line of the first track hits home that this is not traditional bluegrass. It has a Gypsy or Latin flavor that continues through the entire song. The rhythm is in a similar vein, and when the young gentlemen of Honeybucket launch into the vocals “Ohio,” they leave further evidence that bluegrass is only part of the story. The vocal harmonies are more-or-less traditional, but the general feel of the song is quite a stew. Honeybucket is a relatively new group (this is their second studio release, and third EP), although they claim on Facebook to have formed in 1898. Definitely in the Newgrass (progressive bluegrass) category, they include elements of honky-tonk country and pop music, with some rock sensibilities behind it all. I like them. They have a fresh sound and high energy, and we could all use more of that around here. And mustaches.
Of the six songs here, three also appeared on their live EP recorded at the Beachland Tavern, and two showed up on their first recording, “The Ohio EP.” It’s confusing. But let’s discuss what we have here. “Mayor’s Daughter” takes what sounds like an old folk ballad (although is seems to be an original) done in bluegrass overdrive. The guitarist, Adam Reifsnyder, and mandolinist, Brendan O’Malley take some nice solos. “Honey for My Baby” is a really catchy tune, also taken at fast tempo, and here the vocal harmonies shine nicely, although they remind me more of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s style more than Ralph Stanley’s. They get to a ballad on “First Winter,” a sweet tune with pop influences, sort of 70s country-rock in tone. The guys get to show off their playing on “Summer Shandy” in longer stretches of soloing (I hear a bit of Celtic influence?), and save the most traditional bluegrass for the last tune, “Old High Road,” a strong closer.
This is a fine outing, and I enjoyed listening to their excellent vocals, high-calibre musicianship, and eclectic style. I look forward to a full-length album at some point.
Personnel: Adam Reifsnyder (guitar, vocals), Abe Klein-Stefanchik (bass, vocals), Brendan O’Malley (mandolin, vocals).
Tracks: Ohio, Mayor’s Daughter, Honey for My Baby, First Winter, Summer Shandy, Old High Road.
Check them out on iTunes
The Grand Wazoo