The Honey Dewdrops in Concert, January 11th, Hbg. PA

Honey Dewdrops1The Virginia-based roots duo The Honey Dewdrops, which features Laura Wortman and Kagey Parish,  bring their original Americana folk music to Harrisburg on Saturday, January 11, 2014 for Susquehanna Folk Music Society’s first  concert of the year to be held at the Fort Hunter Centennial Barn, 5300 N. Front Street in Harrisburg, PA. The 7:30 p.m. concert will be preceded by a free 6 p.m. potluck dinner.

Wortman and Parish create inspired songs rooted in the experience and lives of people. Their songs shine with energy and emotion through intimate performances with a few acoustic instruments and tightly-layered harmonies.

Concert tickets are $18 General Admission, $16 for SFMS members, and $10 for students ages 3-22. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or online at www.sfmsfolk.org

Below is an interview recorded on December 23, 2013 with Kagey Parish.

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FOLKMAMA: A lot of Susquehanna Folk audience members really like old time music. I hear that style in your singing and playing. I’m curious how you would describe the relationship between your music and old time music.

HONEY DEWDROPS: Our music is kind of like new old-time music. The kind of music that Laura and I really got into together was a lot of traditional American music like old blues and old country and bluegrass as well. I think what first got us into that music was the feeling; emotion and energy that comes through old time fiddle tunes and blues. We want to sing and play with that kind of energy because it is infectious—it gets inside of you and it won’t get out.

FOLKMAMA: So I’ve been noticing fairly recently that I think there are really a lot of young people that have gotten into what you call on your website “Americana Music.” So how can you explain that phenomenon?

 HONEY DEW DROPS: We think and talk about this a whole lot because we do find ourselves in a community that is growing larger and larger each year.  Americana music has a really long history and there have been certain points in time where it has been highlighted and other times where the popularity has died off a little bit. There was what they call the “folk scare” in the early 60s and then there is the resurgence that is going on right now which may have been kindled by the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”which was a major movie that had an incredible sound track to go a long with it.

The sound track incorporated some people who had been around for such a long time; like Norman Blake, Ralph Stanley, and John Hartford, and combined them with some contemporary musicians like Allison Krause and Gillian Welsh. There was something in there for everybody but it had that sound, that old quality. What can be simpler than a voice and a guitar making a sound that just gets inside of you? I think a lot of young people were really attracted to the music, especially in our world with I-Phones and computers and the internet all the time. It’s something that is basic, pared back, simple—but really powerful.

FOLKMAMA: I noticed that some groups, like the Carolina Chocolate Drops for instance, made a conscientious effort to get to study with some of the masters. Have you ever done any of that, or have you wanted to go your own fresh direction?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Well, we have done a little bit of that. One of the ways that I first got into old-time music was by spending some time with Mike Seeger who lived in Lexington, Virginia. Mike was an extremely generous teacher. I think if there was one legacy for him it was that he was great at spreading the music around. Not just by making recordings or by putting on shows, but by sitting down with people–playing with them, helping them to learn songs, showing them something that he was working on—that was his legacy.

Mike was a guy who obviously knew so many different styles, he was really interested in the history of old time music, including blues, old country, old bluegrass—all this rural American music happening and being first recorded in the 20s and 30s—he was into all that stuff. But he was able to sing it in a voice that was his own; he put his own spin on it.

Some other folks that we’ve gotten to know and work closely with are Ginny Hawker and Tracey Swartz. Obviously we’re really into duets—we think it’s a really powerful way of making music together.  And those would be two that we are really influenced by. The quality of their voices singing their close harmonies—it’s like their voices are two sticks rubbing together—there is this spark, this fire.

FOLKMAMA: What’s your instrumentation in the group?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Lately we’ve been adding more and more things. We started playing two guitars together—a great way to do duets, two guitars, two voices. And slowly added a mandolin and Laura learned to play the banjo now. So its fun to explore new sounds and add things as time goes by, but its guitar, mandolin and banjo right now.

FOLKMAMA: And where does your name come from?

HONEY DEW DROPS: About 8 years ago now we were living in a little town called Scottsville which is just South of Charlottesville, VA. Near us was a little restaurant/bar called the Dew Drop Inn. It had been there for many, many years and was actually the idea of the Dew Drop Inn on for The Waltons TV show. At that time we had been going by our names Laura Wortman and Kagey Parish and we thought it would be fun to have a band name and we were married so there is that little thing with “Honey do.” So the name just came up and we’ve stuck with it; The Honey Dewdrops.

FOLKMAMA: Do you write your songs together?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Each song is a little different. Some of the songs that we sing we sat down together and wrote it in about an hour’s time, there are other songs that Laura has started and finished on her own, other she has stared and I’ve come in and finished, and the same for me. Each one needs a little something different to be brought to life so it’s a pretty wide open process.

FOLKMAMA: What are some of the common themes of your songs?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Themes that come up are things that come to us through our daily living and a lot of our life is traveling through various towns and if we are lucky getting to spend some time and making some friends in those towns.

One of the songs that we wrote was called “Hills of My Home” and it was based on traveling first out west and then in parts of Virginia and other parts of Appalachia like Kentucky and West Virginia. One of the things that we kept on seeing was the destruction of our mountains across the country to various forms of mining. One in particular was mountain top removal which is a form of strip mining where they blow the top of the mountain off in order to get to the coal seams underground. As you can imagine once they are done there is not much left of the mountain so they are actually bringing down the mountain in order to get the coal out of it so it seems like a crazy idea to us. Why would they want to destroy this permanent thing? That’s just one of the many things that we try to think about and write about. I think the main thing is that we write about things that are important to us, that touch a nerve or give us a feeling—positive or negative.

FOLKMAMA: So you’ve been performing professionally as a group for five years and you have three CDs. What are some of the most exciting, interesting places that you’ve played at?

HONEY DEW DROPS: You know it’s been really cool to do this for 5 years and travel around the country and go to places that we never would have gone to otherwise. Just last fall we were in a little town called Fairfield Iowa which is in the middle of vast fields of corn. Turns out it was the home of the Maharishi University, which is a transcendental meditation community. A lot of people are drawn to the university and a lot of them end of staying, wanting to be a part of that community for the rest of their lives. That was something that we really didn’t expect. It was a really welcoming community that had a lot to teach us. And that happens all the time, but it happens in different ways. Friendly people, beautiful landscape, so yeah, we just feel really lucky to travel.

FOLKMAMA: I think I read in one of your interviews that you don’t really have a home base. Is that still true?

HONEY DEW DROPS: This year we are living on the road. We had lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for the past 5 years which is Laura’s home town. I grew up in Richmond which is about 60 miles east of there. And after 5 years we got to thinking, hey, why don’t we change something up here? So we decided to take about a year and go on the road and stay with friends and family along the way and anybody else who might be generous enough to give us a bed for an evening and it’s been a really interesting experience. We started off in May of this year and we’re going to do it until May or June 2014 before we get another apartment.

FOLKMAMA: I imagine most people couldn’t even imagine not having a home. Where would they put their stuff?

HONEY DEW DROPS: Well what we tried to do is pare down over the years. We like to travel as lightly as we can. Now we have four instruments in the car, we have our bags and our hiking boots, but trying to reduce the stuff and clutter all around us has been a really positive part of doing this.

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