Concert Review: Hold On Honeys/Everest Rising @ Mabee Farm, 06/01/2023

The hottest June 1st since 1918 didn’t hinder the Hold on Honeys from handing over a heaping helping of heavenly harmonies to launch this year’s Howlin’ at the Moon Americana Summer Music Series at The Mabee Farm in Rotterdam Junction.  The Troy-based indie folk trio of Emily Curro, Raya Malcom, and Shannon Rafferty raised the roof of the hand-pegged 1760’s Dutch barn on the scenic riverside property of the oldest farm in the Mohawk Valley with their honeyed blending of beautiful voices.  From the seats in the barn to the dancers on the lawn to the goats in their pen to the full moon appearing right on cue to be howled at, summer got a perfect kick-start from this tremendously talented triad in an idyllic seasonal setting.

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

I huddled with the Honeys (in the shade) before the show: “This barn is incredible! Oh my God. We walked in, and we were, like, this is our home; we should always be playing music in a barn!  Feels so right this time.  It’s beautiful. How do we harmonize?  I think most of the time, we just kind of feel it out and hear it.  We all also have a life history of being in choirs and listening to music and doing theater.”   

“There’s the theory of it that we all understand relatively, I mean, kind of!  There’s the theory of it, but also, we really, really harmonize when we’re creating by ear.  We have pretty different ranges, and I think, for the most part, we stick to the sort of similar parts. But we also do a lot of jumping around, like who’s singing what, and when?  Oftentimes, Shannon’s on top. Emily’s in the middle, and Raya is on the bottom.  But we do swap it around quite often. And a lot of our songs kind of weave through each other.  I don’t even know how to explain it.  Weave in and out. Top, middle, bottom is not necessarily a thing.  It’s kind of all over the place!”  

“We have Matt Malone joining us on guitar and Connor Armbruster on fiddle, and sitting in with us tonight in place of Michael Gregg is Carolyn Shapiro on banjo.  We’re very excited to be hanging with her and singing with her.  She’s amazing!  We’re actually gonna back her up on one of her songs tonight! We do originals, too; you’ll hear some tonight.  We’re working on recording an EP this summer. Also, this summer, we have a residency at The Red Lion Inn-June 29, July 13, and August 3; it’s actually in Lion’s Den, the basement tavern.  Then, of course, we’ll be at Nipperfest on July 22 (Carolyn Shapiro is also a Nipperfest performer this year). We’ll be playing the Troy Public Library on July 27: we’re part of their Shorts Out Loud series, where a reader presents a short story, and we will be the musical guest for that, which I’m really excited about, so we can hang with the kids! Then the Rye Bread Festival on July 29!” 

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

Hosting band Everest Rising will open each of this summer’s five shows with their progressive acoustic music.  With Dale Wade-Kezey on vocals and harmonica, Trevor Wood on guitar and vocals, Mark Baptiste on mandolin and vocals, Pete Gernett-Dott on bass and vocals, and Bill Flanagan on banjo, the group’s skilled picking and harmonizing had the crowd easily grinning with a mix of covers and originals with elements of bluegrass, Americana, rock and jazz that went over easy.

Photo by Leif Zurmuhlen

Dale Wade-Kezey (after the show): “This year is the 15th Howlin’.  I’ve been a longtime member of the Schenectady County Historical Society and a volunteer here for over 20 years. The band did a 12th anniversary show last fall at Grooms Tavern, and the live recording is up on our website. We all live in the Capital Region, and we all just kind of met over the years. We played Wolf Hollow Brewery a couple of weeks ago, and we’ll do these five concerts.  We love doing this because we’re just not chasing down gigs and, you know, running after it-so. We’re kind of the barn band instead of the bar band!”

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