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The California Honeydrops at Alex's

The California Honeydrops focus on entertainment value
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Left to right, Charlie Hickox, Lorenzo Loera, Lech Wierzynski, Johnny Bones and Ben Malament are The California Honeydrops. Photo courtesy of Brian SpadyPhoto courtesy of Brian Spady
 Posted: 2:00 AM September 12, 2013

The California Honeydrops has done its best to skirt genre labels and just be entertaining, so while the L.A. Times calls them "Southern-fried jazz" and the National Blues Foundation nominates them for "Best New Artist," audiences worldwide are asking, "What kind of music is this?"

"I always say that it doesn't really matter as long as you had a good time," says the Honeydrops' frontman Lech Wierzynski.

However, for the sake of the music industry, Wierzynski narrows the band's influences down to West Coast R&B and blues, New Orleans-style music, zydeco and gospel music.

If you go

Who: The California Honeydrops

When: 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12

Where: Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland

Cover: $5

Call: 541-482-8818

"I love all kinds of music, and we fit it all in there," he says. "We played a set the other day where someone called out a request for some country music, so we played two or three country songs."

The band — Wierzynski (vocals, guitar and trumpet), Johnny Bones (saxophone), Ben Malament (drums and washboard), Lorenzo Loera (bass) and Bruce Gordon (keyboards and accordion) — will present one of its genre-bending, danceable sets at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, at Alex's Plaza Restaurant, 35 N. Main St., Ashland.

"We don't just go out there and play our set," Wierzynski says. "We make them (the audience) clap. We make them dance. We take requests. We talk to them, and we make them sing a lot. We're a demanding band. We don't let people off the hook. They can't just sit there."

The California Honeydrops started out as trio, busking on the streets and in the subway stations of Oakland, Calif., where most of its members are based. In the last five years, the band grew to a quintet, recorded three studio albums and toured Europe about 10 times, including trips to Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and Poland, where Wierzynski was born.

The band's most recent album, "Like You Mean It," also is its most creative and exploratory project. The 13-track album, funded by a Kickstarter campaign, was recorded in San Francisco's historic Hyde Street Studios and released April 13.

Lyrically, it's songs are about life, loss and love, Wierzynski says.

"Musically, it's the first album that we've combined all the music that we love into our own style," he says. "The previous records were more faithful representations of our influences, but this record is our type of music, our own original creation."

The Honeydrops will play a variety of music, original and not, this week at Alex's. Cover to the show is $5.

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