Newport Folk Festival: honeyhoney

The staff at WERS have been more or less stalking honeyhoney for a few months now. It started at SXSW this past Spring in Austin, Texas, and soon after that, we invited the folk duo for an in-studio performance in Boston. Now we found Suzanne Santo and Ben Jaffe at the Harbor stage at Newport Folk Festival on this Saturday afternoon.

The band performed several songs from their latest album, Billy Jack, including “Ohio” and “Angel of Death”, which Santo joked was “another tender ballad” for the audience. Santo looked the part of a well-versed Americana songstress in her cowboy boots and light, flowy dress, paired with the smile that could be seen from all corners of the tent. Throughout the set, she switched back and forth between wielding a banjo and a violin, but she was always in control of the microphone with her robust and impressive vocals.

My biggest regret with honeyhoney’s set really didn’t have anything to do with something on their part– it was the audience that seemed a little subdued and distracted. The band definitely deserved a more responsive set of festival-goers, but being such a new act, there’s plenty of time for them to learn how to whip an underwhelmingly enthusiastic audience to their toes.

The pair kept noting how quickly they were going through all of the songs, and at one point Santo joked, “We’re blazing through our set, so maybe we’ll do some, like, remixes.” They ended up leaving out the remixes, but they did cover Hank Williams’s classic “Lost Highway”, which Jaffe and Santo sung together.

Perhaps the best song to come from honeyhoney’s set was “Thin Line”, which boasted some heavy riffing and a dangerous side in the lyrics, like when Santo sings “I want whiskey when I’m sick and a man when I’m well / But it’s nice to have them both sometimes when I feel like raising hell.”

So although it doesn’t look like honeyhoney have any tour dates again in New England in the near future, it’s surely just a matter of time before WERS tracks them down at another gig.


By Sarah Ruggiero

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