Honeysuckle kicks off summer tour in Sandpoint

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

East Coast-based progressive folk band Honeysuckle will be kicking off its West Coast tour with a show at MickDuff’s Beer Hall on Saturday, July 16 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. The band consists of Sandpoint’s own Holly McGarry and her partner Chris Bloniarz — both graduates of Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music.

Honeysuckle has performed extensively around the country, hitting such hot spots as the Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza and Americanafest. They were named Americana Artist of the Year in 2019, Folk Artist of the Year in 2018 at the Boston Music Awards, and hailed as one of the “Top 10 bands of 2016 so far” by NPR.

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, McGarry said the duo is eager to get back on stage.

“We’ve been flailing wildly, but I think we might’ve gotten a breath of fresh air recently,” McGarry told the Reader. “We’re working on new material, going into the studio in August to record a new EP. We’re trying to get back to our old haunts.”

The dynamic between McGarry and Bloniarz on stage is nothing short of magical. Their harmonies are pitch perfect, their instrumentation top notch and unique, which has taken a lot of work after their third band member Ben Burns departed for other endeavors.

“The first couple of shows we played after Ben left, we were just playing the songs without his parts,” McGarry said. “The whole time you’re playing, you almost have this separate show going on in your head. It was disorienting.”

The duo put in a lot of work crafting their sound to work without a third member, developing new, more intricate harmonies and sometimes utilizing completely new instrumentation.

“We’ve gotten creative,” she said. “We’re writing songs in a different way now. If you start playing a new instrument, it can bring out new ideas or directions.”

After its Beer Hall gig, Honeysuckle will play the Lucky You lounge in Spokane on Sunday, July 17, then make tracks west and south to play the other dozen spots on their tour. 

“This has been our first year we’ve been able to tour as a duo,” McGarry said. “We’re trying to get the world back under our feet, tinkering with our new instruments and exploring how to fill out the sound with just two people. It forces you to pivot creatively and I think that’s been a lot of fun for us, as much as it’s been difficult.”

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