The Bluegrass Situation: Roots Culture Redefined

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5+5: The California Honeydrops

Apr 24, 2018

Artist: Lech Wierzynski (of the California Honeydrops)
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Latest Album: Call It Home: Vol. 1 & 2
Personal Nickname: The Polish Honeydrop

If you had to write a mission statement for your career, what would it be?

My mission for my career is to spread joy, dancing, and healing through the power of live, non-programmed music, and to inspire more people to take that power into their own hands. We live in a society where people often rely on superstars, light shows, and drugs to feel something. I hope to show people that we don’t need a light show, DJ, or pre-programmed beats, or a God-like celebrity for an amazing musical experience. Real magic can happen with a few friends, with voices to sing, hands and feet to keep the beat, and willingness to take a chance.

How do other art forms — literature, film, dance, painting, etc — inform your music?

Reading lots of poetry has taught me to search for the smallest number of words to express an emotion or tell a story. Comedy has shown me life is easier and better when you can laugh about it. It’s especially important for me to laugh about things I want take too seriously. That’s the reason I like writing and singing silly songs about relationships and sex (our covers of “Stand Up In It” by Theodis Ealey and “Sit Down On It” by Marvin Sease are fan favorites). I also love watching all forms of dance, from old Nicholas Brothers tap dance videos to turfing or second lining. Sometimes I write songs by just dancing to an imaginary beat alone in my house.

Which elements of nature do you spend the most time with and how do those impact your work?

I get a lot of inspiration from oceans and mountains, as well as tiny things like mushrooms, mosses, lichens, and flowers. I love listening to the ocean and picking out all the sounds from the deep rumbles to the sound of the sand breathing, after a wave recedes. The scale of time and space you enter when you tune into the natural world can really give some good perspective on life. The entire history of humanity is a very small piece of a much bigger picture.

If you could spend 10 minutes with John Lennon, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Joni Mitchell, Sister Rosetta, or Merle Haggard how would it go?

Only 10 minutes with Sister Rosetta Tharpe? That’s it? Well, I’d have to thank her, first, for being such an awesome inspiration in my life. I started the Honeydrops right after two years of nightly Sister Rosetta YouTube binges. I’d have to bring her some presents — maybe some Polish dessert and a drink, like blueberry pierogi with whipped cream and some brandy. But I wouldn’t waste too much time talking or eating. I‘d get straight to playing music — “Up Above My Head,” “Journey to the Sky,” “This Train,” “Precious Lord.” I’d do my best singing the Marie Knight harmonies with her.

What’s your favorite memory from being on stage?

Last summer, at an electronic music festival, we were closing our set with the Rebirth Brass Band classic “Do Whatcha Wanna.” I was encouraging everyone to come out of their shells and try some new dance moves for the last song. Some crazy dude danced across the front of the stage and, while he was up there, I saw some young ladies in the front row looking at each other like, “Hey, we can dance way better than that fool. Let’s go!” Before I could blink, there were about 100 women onstage dancing with the band. We were on a small side stage, and there was no security, but we didn’t need any. Everybody was cool. Probably the best party at the fest.

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