Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Concert Review: Honeyhoney at the Grog Shop

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 10:12 AM


It was a sort of homecoming for Honeyhoney frontwoman Suzanne Santo at the Grog Shop last night.

She grew up in the area before moving to Los Angeles for an acting career that including spots on Law and Order, Medium, and Judging Amy in her late teens.

She met guitarist Ben Jaffe, who was doing commercial music and formed an Americana duo with Santo playing banjo, guitar, and violin. They released their debut, First Radio, in 2008, and last year followed that up with Billy Jack.

Fresh from buzzed-about appearances at SXSW, they showed what the fuss was about last night. Playing before a crowd of about 70 people, they showcased their ability to easily blend different stylistic idioms.

Sure, banjo, and fiddle scream country, but they compete here with folk, blues, and even a trace of psychedelica and British Invasion rock.

There were even moments during the song breaks where Jaffe cut loose with greasy kinetic guitar freakouts, clearly taking advantage of the live setting.

But the star of the show was Santo and her vocal versatility. During the twangy tunes, her voice is often as cold, grainy, and spare as a coal miner’s daughter.

Other times it’s dusky and Dusty, bringing a smoky jazz-soul vibe to Honeyhoney's freewheeling folk-blues numbers or giving a metaphorical shoulder shimmy during one of their southern gospel-blues tunes.

Santo was also an engaging, humorous presence on the mic between songs, relating how the tour’s sponsored by Short Mountain Distillery, which makes authentic Tennessee moonshine, and a few details about a recent show at a marijuana dispensary. (No, they were not paid in kind.)

Among last night's many highlights: their lively ode to “Ohio,” a cover of Hank Williams' “Lost Highway,” and James Carr’s 1967 soul classic “The Dark End of the Street.”

After the show, Santo expressed her hope to return to the area. It would be a coup for Cleveland, because there seems no doubt their star is on the ascendance. —Chris Parker

Tags: , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation