Quintet has been playing together for fewer than two years
The Havana Honeys are Mexico's own sugary sweet five-piece string band, with the members spreading their auditory honey to musical palates around the mid-west. Though the quintet has been playing together for fewer than two years, they have already played 40-50 live performances in the Mexico, Columbia and Boonville areas.
The Havana Honeys have recorded four live sets, 20-30 songs and a self-titled EP. They performed live on KOPN, in May, 2012, and on Mo Lewis' show What's New For Dinner. "The Havana Honeys" EP was played on BXR last summer.
The group was recently awarded first place in the crowd response category at The Blue Note's Nov. 6 Battle of the Bands and second place in the judges category.
The Havana Honeys are a self-categorized folk-pop-rock band with a dash of bluegrass, best known for catchy, expressive lyrics, powerful instrumental breakdowns and lofty vocal harmonies.
David Myers performs as ukulele player, keyboardist and vocalist, Josh Deal as guitarist and vocalist, Chris Fritschle as banjoist, Bradley Hutchinson as bassist, and Slater Biggers as mandolinist.
The group formed in February, 2012. "We were all in different bands before we formed The Havana Honeys. When they came to an end this group formed unexpectedly where the others left off," Myers said.
Myers and Deal, long-time musical collaborators, devised the Honeys project and reached out to long time friend, Fritschle, soon after. The three began by rearranging old songs from prior projects. From there they quickly began writing new material.
The Honeys progressed rapidly, playing their first show at Coach's Pizza Works in February, shortly after their formation. "At that first show we played with only the guitar, banjo and ukulele. Our audience was mainly just friends and family, but we had only been playing together for about a month," Fritschle said.
In order to expand the ensemble's sound, Hutchinson was added on bass in summer, 2012. The band's roster was completed the following winter with the addition of Biggers on mandolin.
Of their extensive performance experiences, their favorite is without a doubt The Blue Notes' recent Battle of the Bands contest.
The Havana Honeys were only two points behind the judges' winner, Mary and the Giant. Some controversy has arisen, because the judges deducted points from The Havana Honeys for the absence of a drummer.
"We were happy to win anything. Mary and the Giant deserved to win something. We are glad that we brought a good crowd and played a good show, though we do think that criticism for being a string band is unfair. We feel that, like many other string bands, we do fine without drums," Deal said.
During live performances, the string pickers' favorite covers are The Lumineers' "Flowers In Your Hair" and "All These Things that I've Done," by The Killers. Their favorite originals include the songs "Blank Stares," "Something To Find" and "Plain Old Memories."
Their freshmen EP, "The Havana Honeys," is a four-song debut recorded with Mike McCoy. The track list contains "What the Devil Dreams," "Dirty Fingers," "Take Away Everything" and "It Comes and Goes."
"We ran out of those CDs a while back," Fritschle said.
The ensemble shares songwriting responsibilities. "Writing goes multiple ways," Deal said.
"Sometimes one of us writes something and brings it to the rest of the band as a full song. Other times we get together to compare ideas and throw lyrics around. It's really sporadic and unplanned."
Currently, The Havana Honeys are preparing for The American Cancer Society's benefit concert, steak dinner and silent auction at the Mexico 4-H Center Jan. 10.
"Come see us and don't be afraid to donate some money to aid The American Cancer Society. There's going to be steak dinner, steak dinner, The Havana Honeys, the fight against cancer and even a steak dinner. What else could be asked for?" Fritschle said.
In the near future, the band hopes to release a self-produced album and gain a following in different regions. "We are trying to spread the honey all over the toast," Fritschle said.
In the long term, The Havana Honeys will be content to simply keep playing music. "Once you get to a certain point you don't want to turn back." Myers said.
The members agree that as long as people come to hear their music, they will keep playing for them.
"We've put a lot of time and effort into this, so we don't want to stop," Deal said.
The Havana Honeys' recordings can be found on reverbnation.com and youtube.com. Contact information, pictures and links are found on their Facebook page.
The band offers thanks to their fans and reminds people to "Spread the honey!"
"We wouldn't be here without our fans," Myers said. "Most of them are from a different demographic then we expected. It seems like the mature crowd prefers us to the teens. We think our folk instrumentation appeals to the older folks more so than the younger people in this area."