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The Honeybees - 10/06/99

This Chicago band, particularly the lead singer, is somewhere between Ruth Brown and Patsy Cline on the roots-music spectrum. Their choice of cover versions represents this dichotomy, which run all the way from "Hip Shakin' Baby" (Roy Brown's vintage masterpiece of black rockabilly) to "Jackpot" (a recent, rocking honky-tonk number by the Derailers).

The band defines rockabilly more in the slightly cleaner Buddy Holly-Eddie Cochran vein, rather than the hellfire Charlie Feathers way. Some modern-day rockabilly bands, particularly those with female vocalists, play up the cuteness factor more than they need. That's what sunk Kim Lenz's first album (her new one is light-years better),but the Honeybees were smart enough to avoid this problem from the gitgo.

Their music is truly where rockabilly/country and R&B collide, with reverbed guitar on top of a boppin' rhythm section. They haven't played quite as often in recent months, but hopefully the slowdown is only temporary. Leave those musty poodle skirts in the closet-The Honeybees play the music right, without the kitsch factor.

-- James Porter, New City Chicago

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