Band of the Week: honeyhoney

Meet the Band: Benjamin Jaffe (guitar, vocals), Suzanne Santo (vocals, banjo, violin)

Nashville Nights: Since forming in 2006, this duo has released two albums, the second of which established the group as a major act in the Americana/alt-country scene. Now, the group is in Nashville in the midst of recording its new album. "We do two tracks a day and drink a bunch of whiskey," says singer-multi-instrumentalist Suzanne Santo about the recording sessions. "We're having so much fun and throwing down some sweet jams. We're doing our record with Dave Cobb who does Jason Isbell and Shooter Jennings' stuff. He also just produced this record from Sturgill Simpson who won a bunch of Americana awards. It's been the best recording experience I ever had. You only do this once and it's done so we're having a really good time."

They Do Know Jack: The group initially signed to Ironworks, a label run by actor Kiefer Sutherland, who's famous for playing Jack Bauer on the TV show 24. "It was really cool to hang out with Jack Bauer for a couple of years," says Santo. "The label wasn't a well-oiled machine though. It was tough. We sat around and waited a lot." Still, she says she's proud of First Rodeo, the one album the label put out. "It was an expensive record to make but we love it," she says. "It's part of the journey. You figure it out as you go on. We were both 21 and had a record deal. We thought we could just sit around and make music all day and that everyone else was going to do the work. That is not the case. You have to work twice as hard. Sometimes, those contracts can ruin your life. Fortunately, we were able to get out of a royally screwed situation."

The Cleveland Connection: Santo grew up in Northeast Ohio and has even written songs about her Ohio roots. "My relationship to Ohio is like a golden orb in my heart," she says. "I love where I'm from. When I'm home, I go downtown and hang out downtown. I love the restaurants and bars. I love the sports teams. When the Browns lose, I take it really hard. The song 'Ohio' is specifically about my relationship to where I'm from. It's a big part of who you are. I would love to have a studio in Cleveland but also a facility for kids to rehearse and play drums or whatever. I would love to have a really well-designed rehearsal space in a warehouse or something."

Why You Should Hear Them: The group plays up the twang side of its sound on 2011's Billy Jack, an album that features lap steel guitar, banjo and violin. "It's funny because we were never in that [Americana] category until Billy Jack came out," Santo says. "We started working with Lost Highway Records. The label is no longer but it was such a cool couple of years. The label was home to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Who doesn't want to be hanging out with those guys?"

Where You Can Hear Them:

Where You Can See Them: Honeyhoney performs with Ryan Joseph Anderson at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 31, at Music Box Supper Club.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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