|Left to right: Ben Malament, Lech Wierzynski,|
Beau Bradbury, Lorenzo Loera
Lech Wierzynski was born in Warsaw, Poland, where he listened to contraband American records and imitated the vocal styles of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong. Coming to the United States as a first-generation immigrant youth, where he was raised by Polish political refugees, he listened intensely to American rock and roll, soul, jazz and hip-hop recordings. During his teenage years, he studied trumpet and started playing blues and jazz at after-hours jam sessions in Washington D.C., and eventually launched a music career on the club circuit in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. In 2007, he formed a blues and rhythm and blues band, which played on the sidewalks and in the subway stations of Oakland. With Wierzynski as the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist band leader, and co-founder Ben Malament as the percussionist, the busking California Honeydrops' public party music quickly developed a passionate local following. The band's fifth and most recent studio album is 2015's A Higher Degree.
Headlining at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, the California Honeydrops' sound was bound by their New Orleans-rooted style of bluesy vocals, barrelhouse piano, and punctuating brass riffs. With virtually no guitars in the mix, the bubbling energy was sparked simply by the interplay of vocals, keyboards and four horn players. Crossing genres from Delta blues to southern soul with funk and a dash of Americana, the band’s shows featured extensive jamming, with many songs hovering around 10 minutes of length. Wierzynski made crowd interaction an integral element to the defining results, dissolving the boundaries between the band and the audience. In the end, this was more of a party than a concert, especially when Wierzynski surprised the audience by announcing that the band would take a brief break and return in a few minutes for a second set.
Visit the California Honeydrops at www.cahoneydrops.com.