With a new mini-album and an upcoming set at Fallasburg Arts Festival, the Michigan band was spotlighted for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by Jan James, Michigan Rattlers and more.
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As an acoustic, folk-driven spinoff from a psychedelic rock band, guitarist-mandolinist Tommy McCord concedes that it took a little while for The Wild Honey Collective to hone its sound after initially tackling songs remotely during the COVID pandemic.
“You don’t really know what a band is until you’re actually playing in front of an audience,” the singer said of the group that’s leaned into its psychedelic roots while rolling out harmony-laden, “folk-inspired” acoustic music.
That’s certainly clear on the band’s latest album, the seven-track “Chicory,” which resonates with a driving, jangly, twangy and hazy vibe.
The seeds of the Lansing- and Grand Rapids-based band – McCord, bassist/multi-instrumentalist Timmy Rodriguez, fiddler-singer Danielle Gyger, guitarist-multi-instrumentalist Dan O’Brien, pedal steel player Adam Aymor and drummer Joel Kuiper – were sown during the COVID shutdown.
McCord and Rodriguez had just released a new album for their Drinking Mercury rock band project when the pandemic forced them to cancel live shows and find socially distanced ways to keep playing music.
“The acoustic guitar hanging on the wall looked pretty attractive,” said McCord, noting they started assembling for outdoor jams with Gyger, McCord’s wife who grew up learning fiddle tunes, and O’Brien.
“We had been talking about doing something more folk-inspired … so it made sense to go for it at that time,” he said.
The band released its debut album, “The Wild Honey Collective: Volume 1,” in 2021 and later followed up with “Volume 2.” The latest seven-song collection released by GTG Records will eventually be part of 2024’s “Volume 3.” McCord spotlighted two tracks from the band’s latest release – “Told You So” and “Marquette Bay” – for this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE.
Watch a video of their live performance of “I Know You Rider” here, and scroll down to listen to the tracks and full radio show.
VIDEO: The Wild Honey Collective, “I Know You Rider”
McCord stressed that the group really is a “collective,” frequently calling on friends from other bands to join them on stage or in the studio, something they call “the spirit of the music-as-community ethos.”
So, “Chicory” features songs written by Lansing space-rock band Calliope, singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith, and songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and former member of The Accidentals Michael Dause, along with a classic Grateful Dead tune.
‘A LOVE FOR CLASSIC ROCK AND VINTAGE COUNTRY’
Recorded by McCord at Lansing’s GTG House – as well as at several other locations across the state – the record finds the band “getting into more psychedelic, extended things with pedal steel guitar” after collective members grew to realize “how freaky the pedal steel can be.”
Not surprisingly, The Wild Honey Collective has been inspired by The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, The Carter Family, Gram Parsons, John Prine, Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Avett Brothers and a long roster of rock heroes.
”All members have a love for classic rock and vintage country, so that’s a big part of the band’s foundation and our individual histories in punk and garage rock inform a lot of our overall approach,” McCord said.
The band also has expanded its reach, cultivating audiences across the state and the country while touring over the past two years – touring that’s included jaunts to the Northeast.
“It’s been really rewarding to have this resonate with people,” McCord conceded.
The band plays the Fallasburg Arts Festival at Fallasburg Park outside Lowell at 4 p.m. Saturday. Scroll down to view the full festival performance schedule.
Other upcoming shows include playing Jacob’s Farm in Traverse City on Sept. 22, Confluxcity Brewing in Portland on Sept. 23 and Harvest Festival in Williamston on Oct. 7.
As for Drinking Mercury, the band continues to work on new material. “We’ll always be doing that,” McCord said of the group founded in Ionia back in 2000.
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which spotlights local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also featured new music from Steel and Wood, Cal in Red, Josh Rose, The Moxie Strings, Lady Ace Boogie, Jan James, Ghost Garden, Sister Stone, Michigan Rattlers and Space Bar. Listen to the radio show podcast here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (9/15/23)
FALLASBURG ARTS FESTIVAL 2023: Live Music Schedule
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