The California Honeydrops, The Seshen

When
Sat Dec 31
Where
The UC Theatre
Time
8pm
Tags
Holiday Event, City, Music
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Description

The California Honeydrops don’t just play music—they throw parties. Led by dynamic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lech Wierzynski, and drawing on diverse musical influences from Bay Area R&B, funk, Southern soul, Delta blues, and New Orleans second-line, the Honeydrops bring vibrant energy and infectious dance-party vibes to their shows. They’ve taken the party all over the world, playing festivals of all kinds and touring widely across North America, Europe and Australia. In 2016 the Honeydrops were honored to support Bonnie Raitt on her North America release tour—and in the past have been privileged to support the likes of B.B. King, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Guy, and Dr. John. Whether in those high-profile performances or in more intimate venues where the band itself can leave the stage and get down on the dance floor, the California Honeydrops’ shared vision and purpose remain: to make the audience dance and sing.

The Honeydrops have come a long way since guitarist and trumpeter Lech Wierzynkski and drummer Ben Malament started busking in an Oakland subway station, but the band has stayed true to that organic, street-level feel. Listening to Lech sing, it can be a surprise that he was born in Warsaw, Poland, and raised by Polish political refugees. He learned his vocal stylings from contraband American recordings of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong, and later at Oberlin College and on the club circuit in Oakland, California. With the additions of Johnny Bones on tenor sax and clarinet, Lorenzo Loera on keyboards, and Beau Bradbury on bass, they’ve built a powerful full-band sound to support Wierzynski’s vocals. More like parties than traditional concerts, their shows feature extensive off-stage jamming and crowd interaction. “The whole point is to erase the boundaries between the crowd and us,” Wierzynski says. “We don't make setlists. We want requests. We want crowd involvement, to make people become a part of the whole thing by dancing along, singing, picking the songs and generally coming out of their shells.”

The Seshen
The Seshen is a San Francisco Bay Area-based seven-piece led by singer/lyricist Lalin St. Juste and bassist/producer Akiyoshi Ehara. Their forward-thinking sound combines synthesizers, drum machines, live percussion, and entrancing harmonies to create an unmistakable fusion of R&B, synth-pop, and electronic music. This chemistry is complemented by St. Juste’s stirring vocals and soul-baring lyrics – the meditations of a self-emancipated spectator who explores worlds, both real and imagined.

St. Juste and Ehara are joined by five remarkable bandmates to create their multidimensional music: vocalist Kasha Rockland, drummer Chris Thalmann, keyboard/synth player Mahesh Rao, percussionist Mirza Kopelman, and sampler Kumar Butler. They take inspiration from across the musical spectrum; their individual influences range from recognizable artists (Erykah Badu, Jai Paul, James Blake, Radiohead, and Broadcast) to genres and eras that don’t initially appear to fit together (hip hop, indie rock, early electronica, and 70’s dub). Their unique alchemy of seemingly disparate sounds has led fans and critics alike to describe the band as defying categorization:

"...the band didn’t just find a niche, they created their own..." (Kick Kick Snare)

"The Seshen perform that rare magic trick of doing something fresh without ever sounding like they’re trying to." (AfroPunk)

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Location

  1. The UC Theatre
    2036 University Ave, Berkeley, CA