Digging deep into the roots of American music, The California Honeydrops will bring the traditions of blues, gospel, second line New Orleans jazz and early R&B to a dance party at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Center for the Arts.
The band that originated playing on the streets and subway stations of Oakland is known for its stellar performances of traditional material as well as its own innovative dance music. Its stop in Grass Valley is part of a summer tour taking it across the U.S., Spain and Scotland.
Since the early days, The California Honeydrops have completed six European tours, performed for crowds throughout the U.S. and recorded two full-length albums of original music. Band members blend the energy and intimacy of a street performance with talented musicianship and the soul and fervor of a spiritual street parade.
“It’s music that is meant to be celebrated. We’ll mix in those street beats and horns into our songs. We’re really doing it for the love of the music — we ain’t afraid to share it with other people,” said bandleader and front man Lech Wierzynski.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, Wierzynski began playing blues and jazz in adolescence at after-hours jam sessions in Washington, D.C. He studied trumpet with Marcus Belgrave of the Ray Charles touring band. After moving to Oakland, he honed his craft with other big names in American music: Maria Muldaur, Dan Hicks and Jackie Payne.
The Honeydrops light up crowds with tunes from Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, early-jazz blues and dancing originals that marry South African township jive with New Orleans second-line parade music.
Tickets to Sunday’s show are $15 for members, $18 for non-members and are available in person, online or by phone, 530-274-8384, ext. 14, at the Center’s box office or at BriarPatch Co-op.