HONEYHONEY Brings The Heat
By Lily Allen-Duenas
Burlington, Iowa band Eric Pettit Lion opened for HONEYHONEY at The Mill on a steamy Friday night on July 17 in downtown Iowa City. The four man Americana/folk quartet composed of Eric Pettit, Tim Buhmeyer, Greg Floyd, and Dave Schwarm warmed the packed bar up with a forty-five minute set. Easy to nod your head to, Eric Pettit Lion’s lyrics were surprisingly dark. Songs about a polygamist father kicking his son out of their home so the father could have more wives certainly caught the audiences’ ear. And jokes surrounding the harmonica/guitar player’s glasses falling off— which they did multiple times— elicited a good bit of laughter.
HONEYHONEY stepped onto the stage and were met by raucous applause while they began tuning. The back room of The Mill was packed and eager for HONEYHONEY to start. Suzanne Santo on lead vocals, banjo, fiddle, and guitar and Ben Jaffe on vocals and electric and acoustic guitar, are the pair that make up the HONEYHONEY duo; touring with them is Conor Meehan on drums. Self-described as “A murican”, their music does fall under the Americana umbrella with twangy banjo riffs and Santo’s bright, soulful voice. Santo stunned in a long chiffon black dress and a lavender suede fringe vest as she crooned into the microphone. Although there were a few technical tweaks that needed to be hashed out during the first few songs, HONEYHONEY never lost their groove. Santo requested more reverb be put into her microphone so she could “sing like a bird.” With a sharp, sultry, powerful voice Santo certainly fulfilled her own wish.
Ben Jaffe’s gritty, dirty guitar riffs and the softness he brings to Santo’s vocal harmony give HONEYHONEY its edge. Plenty of audience members rotated on and off the dance floor, much to Jaffe’s delight. Whenever new dancers would approach the stage and start to sway he would beam. Santo thanked people for getting up and dancing a couple times, calling the crowd a “rowdy bunch.”
This is HONEYHONEY’s second time performing at The Mill, and they’re now on their summer tour promoting their album simply titled 3, which was released in June 2015 and produced by the venerated Dave Cobb. Check out their new album, which Rolling Stone recently named one of their "20 Reasons to Love This Year.” HONEYHONEY’s 3 just might make it in your top 20 too.