9:00am

Sat May 10, 2014
marc on the blues

The California Honeydrops: American Band, Polish Roots

The California Honeydrops’ frontman and founding member Lech Wierzynski may seem like an All-American Blues singer and player, but he was born in Warsaw, Poland. His immersion in American culture was sought out and not inherited.

Marc Applegate speaks with The California Honeydrops' Lech Wierzynski

“When my dad was growing up in communist Poland in the 40’s and 50’s, old American music was illegal and therefore very cool,” said Lech Wierzynski. “He passed on the love of old stuff to me: everything from Louis Armstrong to Sam Cooke.”

After moving to America, Lech expanded his appreciation of U.S. culture.

“My brother and I had to assimilate to modern American society,” Wierzynski explains, “so we loved all the popular stuff on the radio too, especially Hip-Hop, R&B. Knowing music was our way of proving we were American.”

Wierzynski built on his early base while studying ethno-musicology at Oberlin College. A 2004 move to Oakland, California, brought him into the center of one of the country’s top music scenes.

A makeshift band developed around Lech Wierzynski and fans helped them quickly moved from the streets to parties, clubs and eventually, festivals (including the 2014 Greeley Blues Jam, June 13-14). Wierzynski’s trumpet, guitar and vocals are supported by the Afro-New Orleans rhythm bent of drummer Ben Malament and the Jazz tinged saxophone of Eddie Palmieri, Nell Carter, and Steve Lucky and the Rhumba Bums alumnus Johnny Bones. Also in the group are Charlie Hickox on keyboards and Bo Bradberry on bass.

The California Honeydrops have a light sound, but are anything but “light weight.” There is a great deal of New Orleans in them, but the Piedmont and West Coast Blues also inform the band. They are a delightful discovery and an example of The Greeley Blues Jam’s talent for introducing the area to great music.

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