Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US. It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores. The Honey Dewdrops are a modern-day, forward-thinking version of a timeless sound. Their lush, sweet, acoustic sounds are a glorious journey that finds the soul of American roots music.
Name: Honey Dewdrops.
For Fans Of: Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings, Rhiannon Giddens, Fred Eaglesmith.
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Members: Kagey Parrish (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Laura Wortman (vocals, guitar, banjo)
Discography: ‘If the Sun Will Shine’ (2009), ‘These Old Roots’ (2010), ‘Silver Lining’ (2012), ‘Live from the Folk Alley’ (2014), ‘Tangled Country’ (2015), ‘Anyone Can See’ (2019), ‘Light Behind Light’ (2022)
Background: “We play experimental folk songs written for two musicians, and sometimes for larger groups,” explains Kagey Parrish one-half of folk duo The Honey Dewdrops about their heartfelt, honest music. “You’ll hear the influence of string band music, singer-songwriters, and pop-music – as delivered with some acoustic instruments, some electronic instruments, and usually with two voices singing harmony.”
Parrish and bandmate Laura Wortman both grew up in Virginia and met through mutual friends while attending different colleges in the same small town when they discovered they shared an interest in the same string band music and songwriters. The pair also discovered their voices were perfectly suited for each other, complementing each other’s strengths and enhancing their weaknesses, coming together in a perfect union like an Appalachian version of the Beach Boys’ golden harmonies.
The two were soon playing a regular monthly gig at a local coffee shop where they needed three hours worth of material, so they built up their repertoire with songs by bands they were listening to like Neil Young, Gillian Welch, and John Hartford. Eventually they added their original music to their sets. “From there, our love of songwriting and playing our own music evolved which eventually led us to pursue music full-time after a few years of teaching after college,” explains Parrish. The duo’s evolution was a slow, patient process, with the young songwriters nurturing their developing sound. It was a time they spent not only practicing, but honing their craft, paying off when they entered NPR’s influential folk radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion’s” national talent contest in 2008 and won.
The duo’s recent album ‘Light Behind Light’, their seventh, is full of sweet harmonies, lush guitar work, and deeply powerful lyrics that are given even more life by the natural chemistry existing in the pair’s finely meshed voices. Recently they have begun to incorporate more musicians into their sound, drawing from the talented musical collective in Baltimore that is the bedrock of the city’s roots scene. “It has been fun to open our songs up to a wider palette of frequencies, and we are beginning to implement new sources of sounds from nature field recordings to ambient noise and synth sounds,” says Parrish. Even as they find new musical ground upon which to tread, at their core The Honey Dewdrops are still the sound of bluegrass, folk, and Americana, delivered with a sweet, stripped down approach that combines a couple of guitars with the occasional splash of mandolin and banjo, along with two perfectly matched voices that are born from the deepest soul of rural America. The result is a glorious journey that gets deep into the soul of American roots music. Their music is all about experimenting with the old and the new and seeing what happens when you mix them up. It is a modern take on a timeless sound. And ‘Light Behind Light’ represents all of those diverse facets of their music.
Parrish elaborates, “Roots and folk music has everything to do with the blues. That seems like a better word than roots music because it has to do with emotion. That feeling is there in the ever-present one – four – five chord structure, it’s there in the stories about the joy and pain of being alive, it’s there in the melodies that so often mimic the human voice, which is all about energy. The sounds of it are all the colors of experience. You’re bound to relate to the blues, and to want to sing the blues and dance to the blues. For a lot of us, the sound and feel of it makes us feel better.”
What they Do Live: