The Evening Muse
June 24, 2011
The Deal: As an export from Wisconsin, I've had some hesitance about enjoying “the best” of Southern culture. Grits, seed-spitting and tractors: it was all a lot to take in. One by one, I've gradually converted (or at least have gotten used) to the way things are down here. The jury's still out on John Deere, but I've really grown to like country music among all other Southern stuff. The Honeycutters' batch of country (a little more mandolin, a little less McGraw) might be what I've been missing. The five piece hopped out of Asheville two years ago, and their recent show at the Evening Muse was the third night of a new tour. After plunking from Charleston to Columbia promoting their fourth album, the Honeycutters charmed a NoDa audience with a Nashville sound.
The Good: Like I said, they've got a sound as classic as grits. Amanda Platt and Peter James' harmonies locked together like so many other greats. On songs like “Irene,” I thought of those country songs that play on those diner jukeboxes you see in movies. There was a great bit of bottom from bassist Ian Harrod that gave some more depth to Platt's drawling vocals. Their touring drummer, John Ashley, was brand new and actually learned a song on stage. He passed the audition impressively, and seamlessly played off of James' guitar playing. A word on that. He played an acoustic through a chain of effects, contorting its body and tone to make the sound of a Whammy bar... on an acoustic guitar.
The Bad: Though there were a lot of different members in this group of Americana misfits, I thought some of the songs seemed to run together. The mandolin, played by Spencer Taylor, rang along with the the guitar melodies, but a lot of his solos were repetitive. Other than that, I only wish these characters had been around back in the '50s.
The Verdict: It's not the country music we've been soaked in, and that's great. Instead of the dog-patting and shotgun-pumping stuff that makes most of us queasy, the Honeycutters respect the classic genre that I have grown to love.