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Left Lane: HoneyHoney

Hot Indie duo in Pittsburgh tonight

April 5, 2012
By RICH GIBSON , Times Leader

Most independent bands long ago abandoned hope for breakthrough opportunities via commercial radio. Fortunately, there are alternative measures.

Ohio native Suzanne Santo and soul partner Ben Jaffe of Massachusetts origin, eventually discovered as much after first meeting and recognizing their shared passion for writing and recording.

The pair eventually opted for west coast digs and the L.A. area's diverse music scene. Once the stars aligned, Santo and Jaffe entered a radio contest and were declared winners of $25,000. The reward culminating in a studio session to make a record.

From which "Little Toy Gun" emerged some four years ago. A shoot-'em-up wild west-themed video, directed by and starring in a cameo role, Kiefer Sutherland, resulted and suddenly Santo and Jaffe's creation was circulating on the You Tube circuit. Go there and see for yourself.

Santo who grew up in northeast Ohio near Cleveland, is a former actress whose sultry gin and tonic vocals remind this listener of a young Bonnie Raitt. Though not out front, Jaffe is a more than capable supporting singer.

Thus, "HoneyHoney" the duo's appropriate namesake, is generating big-time buzz on the club and soon to be festival circuit.

Santo and Jaffe are in Pittsburgh tonight, performing at city's popular Southside bistro, Club Cafe. The over-21 shot begins with a support artist at 8:00.

Though the band's 2008 record, "First Rodeo" met with modest success if not overwhelming airplay, HoneyHoney's latest, "Billy Jack," is regarded as a 'must hear' production, particularly by Left Lane standards.

Jaffe and Santo co-wrote 10 of the CD's 11 stellar tracks on a record which explores multiple genres. There are elements of folk, blues, country, bluegrass and straight ahead rock.

"Billy Jack" is a album which frequently, though most effectively, goes against the grain, beginning with the non-conventional opening song, "Angel of Death," with Santo urging said subject to avoid a ill-informed rendezvous.

"Glad I've Done What I Did" follows, plodding along at a laidback pace but highlighted by a terrific banjo hook-laden backbeat.

"The is made of a lot of stories, a lot of lives," Santo reflected in an interview. "We're very different, but those differences are what makes it."

She goes on to reveal a majority of songs on the record are cut from the quick of personal trials. "I've had a lot of different times in my personal life that kinda leveled me as a person. That's why this record is the way it is. It's made of guts: what's happening on the inside. the notion of (us) being really independent, being on our own. That's a big reality."

Santo is accompanied by solo piano on the moody "LA River" written after the couple had experienced the broad emotions of a Hollywood-driven lifestyle.

Beforehand, the duo's "holed up in a Cleveland hotel room" culminating in the record's most frenetic rocker, "Let's Get Wrecked."

"If we want anything from these songs, it's to bring people into this music," Jaffe intervenes. "Hopefully, we're able to engage listeners with our music."

The band's first single from the new disc is "Turn That Finger Around," a story involving hard times and the measures sometimes necessary for a reversal of fortune.

Following tonight's Club Cafe gig, Honeyhoney heads back to the west coast to prepare for one of spring's most anticipated festivals - Coachella - in Indio, Calf., a couple hours out in the desert from LA.

Later this year, the duo will be opening numerous dates for British pop star James Morrison.


GRAMMY winning trio Lady Antebellum is hosting a private prom event for Henryville (Ind.) High students whose community experienced extensive damage from a tornado earlier this year.

The band has invited the school's juniors and seniors to the KFC Yum Center in nearby Louisville, Ky for a private prom event May 16 to be followed by a post-party concert which will be open to the public.

All proceeds raised from the concert portion of "Rebuilding Henryville" will remain local for the benefit of disaster victims.

"Helping rebuild this community is our biggest priority right now," stated Hillary Scott, vocalist for Lady A. "We were greatly touched by the stories regarding Henryville High, but also from students at their rival schools who raised thousands of dollars and offered their assistance. May 16 is going to be an amazing day and Lady A is proud to support the cause...."

COMEDIAN/ACTOR Steve Martin, who doubles as a member of the bluegrass band 'Steep Canyon Rangers' spoke recently regarding the band's forthcoming CD, "Nobody Knows You."

"I've totally enjoyed by time with this talented group of young artists who continue to explore both the new and old styles of bluegrass and bring a fresh energy to the traditions of American music. More and more people - young and old - are discovering bluegrass. That's reflected by the large number of festivals around the country...."

Gibson may be reached at



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