October 26, 2013 by Jay Minkin
I try and pride myself on going local. Local restaurants. Local beer. Local groceries and produce. So liner notes once again is going local with some home grown Cuyahoga valley bluegrass. You don’t need to travel outside of your radius circle to hear the beautiful three-part harmony blend of Honeybucket. The little band on this side of the Appalachian Trail will be celebrating their 2nd Birthday and the release of a brand new Ep on Thursday, October 31st at Nighttown starting at 8:00 PM.
Guitarist Adam Reifsnyder struck up a conversation with his bartender Brendan O’Malley, who happened to play mandolin, and discovered the common thread being musicians. They formed a duet and began co-writing songs along with performing in area coffee houses. Their sets were more on the blues/pop/rock genera until their compositions began going more toward a bluegrass sound. Problem was they needed the low end of a bass player that could sing really well. Brendan called his Cleveland Heights classmate Abie Klein-Stefanchick, who had played in a band together back in high school, and the vocal harmonies sounded as sweet as …. err …. honey. Their very first rehearsal was Halloween night in 2011 and five of those original Reifsnyder/O’Malley songs ended up on The Ohio Ep the band self-recorded in 2012.
The group started playing half-hour sets and grew to full shows and private parties. Honeybucket eventually were invited to perform at larger events like Brite Winter Festival and Great Lakes Burning River Fest. Their “Newgrass” sound was garnering a following and the boys entered my radar when they opened for the acclaimed Nashville bluegrass group The Steeldrivers at the Beachland Ballroom back in March of this year. The crowd especially took notice when they cranked out a new grass interpretation of Guns ‘n Roses “Paradise City”. I purchased a copy of the Ohio disc and was exited to pop it into my CD player for the ride home to Akron after the concert. Listening to “Rich Daddy”, “My Friend”, and “Down River” along with four other selections reinforced that what I heard on stage was really something special. These were Cleveland boys playing at a local club, not at The Station Inn in Nashville, where I first saw The Steeldrivers and bluegrass happens there on a nightly basis.
The hard working trio all have day job responsibilities besides following their dream of performing music. O’Malley is a student at CSU along with tending bar in a trendy Shaker Square restaurant. Stefanchik works two jobs at a bakery and wine store in the Cedar-Fairmount neighborhood. Louisville, KY native Reifsnyder ended up in Ohio by way of attending Kenyon College and found employment as a web developer downtown after marrying his sweetheart.
Pretty much playing exclusively in the Cleveland area, Honeybucket had a successful KickStarter campaign that raised $4,000 for their studio time with Dave Douglas at his Danger House Studios in Cleveland Heights. All of the songs recorded for the new release are original that was either written collectively or individually with assistance from fellow band mates. Two previously released songs “Ohio” and the ballad “First Winter”, the final product of a song Adam had been piecing together since he was seventeen, were updated and re-recorded. Some old tyme themes thread throughout three of the new numbers. “Mayor’s Daughter” has a young boy running from the law and is a band favorite to close out their sets. “Old High Road” dreams of one’s Appalachian homestead while the humorous “Honey For My Baby” has turned into a pass-the-hat for folks to put a dime in the bucket. An instrumental number was written one summer evening playing outdoors on the patio which notably became “Summer Shandy”.
So wherever you live, go out and support your local singer/songwriters that are working hard crafting original music and following their dreams. They are out every evening somewhere playing for you and appreciate the love, support, and affirmation. Keep updated on Honeybucket and future performances at their Facebook page … as well as this writer’s journey at Minkin’s Music.