The California Honeydrops took the stage for their soundcheck ahead of their sold-out show at Colorado’s Mishawaka Amphitheatre around 4:30 p.m. on August 23rd. As per usual at this time in mid-afternoon in the Poudre Canyon outside of Fort Collins, it began to rain. Fittingly, the band began to play a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” while a few free-spirited employees of the Mishawaka danced around. Even some of the customers came down in the downpour to dance.
This is exactly what the California Honeydrops bring to the table–a dance party that unites an old sound with new grooves and an attitude that motivates even the most stubborn of wallflowers to sprout into a boogying frenzy.
The band has played at “The Mish” the last four years, first opening for The Motet, then going on to headline the outdoor amphitheater over the past three, notably selling out the venue in 2018 and 2019. This is a show that captures the hearts of the employees of this wonderful venue, and when asked, most would have likely confirmed that this date had been circled on their calendars as a DO NOT MISS event.
It is easy to see why these guys are a hit across the board with both the younger and the older generations. The tribute to the soul of old mixed with youthful exuberance creates an experience like none other, guaranteed to get fans moving no matter age or social class. The band’s off-the-cuff set included covers of CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” and a tribute to Teddy Pendergrass with “When Somebody Loves You Back” during which Lech got the crowd involved with some of the lyrics. Overall, it was an excellent show with nothing but good vibes and good times for all in attendance.
Live For Live Music sat down with Ben Malament, one of the founding members of California Honeydrops, for a short, pre-show conversation in which he discussed playing at “The Mish,” their covers selections, and more.
Live For Live Music: How does it feel to be back at the Mish?
Ben Malament: As soon as we pull up, it is just one of the best places to be.
L4LM: I remember the first [headlining] show you guys played for three hours non-stop, How do you do that?
BM: Oh yeah I remember, we like to play. If the energy is good and we’re feeling good, we just keep going. We like to explore and make sure we get to play a bunch of stuff.
L4LM: Where do you source a lot of your covers?
BM: Its a lot of stuff, people that pass on a groovy song, or an artist that we discover and other songs by that artist like Bobby Charles from New Orleans. Or in the van we’ll be driving along and hear a song and say, ‘Hey, let’s play it!’
L4LM: Where did you get the idea to cover “Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You”?
BM: Well that’s a Wilson Pickett tune, but we heard it from Freddie Hughes [out of Oakland] who did his own cover of it and we got the idea from him.
L4LM: The band is from Oakland, are most of the guys from Oakland?
BM: It’s kind of spread out at this point. On stage today we have most of us from California but Lech is from Poland and then grew up in the D.C. area. Scott [on congas] is form New Orleans, Leon [on clarinet and sax] is from Portland.
Scroll down for a gallery of photos from the band’s performance at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre, courtesy of Sunny Side Production.
For more information about the California Honeydrops and their upcoming touring schedule, head to their website here.