Honey and the 45’s @ Martyrs’ – 4/8-2015

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Honey and the 45’s are one of my favorite Chicago bands.  I’m lucky to say I’ve played a few shows with these guys and my dear friend/bandmate, Nathaniel, is very lucky to say he is engaged to lead singer/Honey’s co-founder, Kristina Cottone.  Although I have been to dozens of Honey shows, tonight’s show has me falling in love with their tunes all over again.

Promoting their excellent 2014 release, MAD, Honey and the 45’s are supporting T Bird & the Breaks this evening at Martyrs’.  In my opinion, it should be the other way around, but I’m also happy to head home early on a school night (sad, I know).  We’re about 5 minutes late when my brother, friend Steve and I walk into the venue.  Kristina, mid song, gives us a casual wave and a smile as we take our place near the bar.  She is one hell of a front woman who always puts on a show, so her gesture is almost expected.  She dances with reckless abandon, plays guitar with tons of soul and even busts out my favorite: a mini-trombone kazoo (I laugh every time, but it also sounds AWESOME!)

That is the thing about Honey and the 45’s.  They sound great on record (get MAD, seriously!) but are truly at home on stage (If it is any indication, they will be opening up for Smash Mouth a week after blowing the doors off of Martyrs’).  Not only are the 45’s incredibly talented musicians but they know how to work together.  Sean Tatum, or “Tater” as I call him, is one of the best bassists I’ve met or had the pleasure of jamming with, but he knows how to support a song.  Sure, he’ll fly up and down the neck a bit and his solos are always a treat, but he really knows how to hold the band together with simple, tasteful playing as well.  It’s almost as if you FEEL his playing more than you hear it.

Jon Gould is another heavy-hitter on guitar and, as a band with heavy blues influence, he does not let our city down.  Sure, his nimble soloing is impressive, but what really strikes me on this particular evening is how he uses volume knob swells to add an ambiance around the band and really give the set some great textures.  Drummer Jarad Kleinstein simply makes me want to quit playing drums as he is IMPOSSIBLY good.  He flows seamlessly between tough blues grooves and loose jazzy sections that keep the flow of the show very interesting.  He even plays a “sizzle cymbal” (google it) which really hammers home their vintage sound.

Rounding out the lineup is singer, violinist and saxophonist Kim Kozel (you read that correctly).  Perhaps the hardest working member of the band on any given night, co-founder Kozel adds all of the sounds you didn’t even know you needed in your life.  Like her bandmates, she is incredibly unselfish and plays a great supporting role, but her presence is always felt and she certainly commands the audience for portions of the show.  In addition to all the instruments they play, Kozel and Cottone also break into synchronized dance moves throughout different portions of the set, a Honey’s staple.  Again, these dudes put on a SHOW!

My favorites of the night are “Extra Extra” and “Not Whatcha Do” as they are classic Honey tunes that really highlight the power of their live performance.  The band find a way to make these songs fresh to my ears although I have heard them many times before.  Mad” and “Skinlovin’” are highlights from their newest release and really help take their sound to a new place.  Each member seems to take a solo at a different point of the show and Cottone announces each musician for applause during the final song…classic showmanship.

I’d like to spend some time gushing about the great performance with Kristina and the rest of the band after the set but they are off speaking to record industry people, taking photos and generally schmoozing, so I settle for discussing the show with a few patrons outside.  Everyone I speak with is in agreement…these kids are gonna be big some day and make a name for themselves.  I hope they are right.  Not only for the sake of one of my favorite bands but for the general public as well.  The world needs more bands like Honey and the 45’s!

Don’t take my word for it, though!  Check Honey and the 45’s out at their official website

Written by Fusion Alternative Blogger: Jason Polakowski

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