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2/7 Novoscene Weekend

Posted by novoscene on March 7, 2008

Got Honey?

When Berkeley based Honeycut strutted onto the scene in 2006, they quickly drew a following of manic, dance happy partiers and comparisons to everyone from the Rolling Stones to Gnarls Barkley. They’ve been called the Bay Area’s answer to the Guerillaz and their live shows, complete with a half naked, sex winding frontman and a jumping bean of a keyboardist, can make a believer of the staunchest wallflower.

The trio of keyboardist/arranger RV Salters, singer Bart Davenport and drum programmer Tony Sevener got together in 2003 and began recording tracks for their debut album, 2006’s “The Day I Turned To Glass,” shortly after. Salter credits a mutual love for the way the sounds blended almost from the beginning. “We share that love of 60’s and 70’s soul and funk and we fall into a similar pocket live.”

Since 1999, Salter has been providing the keys for several projects for Oakland label Quannum, including tracks for Blackalicious, Lifesavas and Maroons. After a few practice sessions with Davenport and Sevener, the new project caught the ear of Quannum label head and Blackalicious DJ Chief Xcel, who championed them from the start.

Paris born Salters drives the show, with arrangements that hint at his background as an art-funk and indie keyboardist and as a session musician for DJ Medhi and Afrobeat superstar Femi Kuti. “I’ve always been into black American music and African music has resonated with me in the best of ways. In the late 70’s and 80’s my dad would bring back vinyl from his trips to Africa and I started listening to Fela (Kuti)-Expensive Shit-when I was 10″ he says, reflecting on one of the Afrobeat legends most famous albums.

While their live shows and newer material are heavy on the instruments and crooning, Salter compares “Glass” with a hip hop album that’s been “chopped up with more organs and keyboarding and song arranging.”

While professing a love for hip hop and electronic music, it’s what Honeycut does around the beats and blips that kicks the most ass. Not content with being either laptop DJ’s or the stereotypical hip hop outfit, the music brings in a level of theatrics and ecitement that’s made them a hit live. “We wanted this band to pull off the idea that you could use electronics on stage but not just stand there and press the space bar and that it could be okay playing breaks on stage without dropping a record…we’re like a rock band on stage but we’re using a lot of high production values.”

At least a portion of the group’s success has been from their collective on stage grooving. It’s expected for the frontman to get busy, and Davenport does with funky regularity, but it’s Salter’s jamming that catches the eye. At times during the set the keyboardist is at least 3 feet off the ground, arms flying and kickstepping around the stage, catching the spirit like a Southern Baptist. There’s this image of the keyboard player as melodic and cool and romantic figure and I always looked at it like ‘this is silly you can stand up and you can rock out and you can get down.'” And get down they do. Let your hair down tonight and get down too. -kwan
Honeycut w/Sugar & Gold
Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell St, San Francisco


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