Popular local soul band takes a break from the stage for business and babies
Saturday night, BLU Jazz+ will play host to a special show: Wesley Bright & The Honeytones. The show, dubbed “One Last Time,” will be your one and only opportunity to see WB&TH for the rest of 2019.
The band, which revels in pre-1970s retro soul and rhythm & blues, will be taking the rest of the year off from performing. No, there are not “creative differences" between frontman Bright (also the founder of local business Akron Honey), and The Honeytones. Rather, the reasons are more pragmatic.
“At the end of last year we decided to focus on the studio,” said Brent (“Wesley Bright”) Wesley, noting that the band is signed to Loveland-based indie label Colemine Records.
"Another factor was, I’m trying to grow Akron Honey, and I’ve felt like I’ve built it to a certain point and then watched other companies take off because they had more time and more resources or whatever to build it. I need to devote time to that to move it faster than it had been moving,” he said.
But while that was a well-reasoned and planned-for decision, since then other unexpected reasons have turned up.
“More recently, my wife and I found out we are pregnant again, all of a sudden,” the already proud father of three young children said. But just as he and his wife, Rebecca, were comprehending their surprise bundle of joy, another surprise was discovered during the doctor's visit.
“I looked up and saw two of them and I said, 'Whoa! What is this?’ And they said, `Yeah, it’s what you think it is,’ and it’s just blowing my mind! So we got twins coming in August! So I'm glad I made the decision to step back from live performing for a while,” he said with a hearty laugh.
Though Saturday (there are actually two shows: at 7 and 9:30 p.m.) will be the final chance to see the band this year, Colemine has released a 7” (also known by the olds as a “45”) single for the song “Happiness/You Don’t Want Me.” And Bright said the band has already recorded a few more tunes for the label and plans to head down to Loveland to record a few more. So there should be enough groovy music to keep fans who own record players dancing.
Additionally, the band’s association with Colemine has afforded Bright the opportunity to record with some of the label’s other artists, including L.A. Funk and soul band Orgone, and he is tentatively scheduled to record with Bakersfield-based lo-fi rocksteady/reggae duo the Soul Chance.
“I’ve never done any reggae before. But soul and reggae, hey, I guess it all works out,” he said.
For Friday night’s show, Bright and The Honeytones are going out big.
In addition to Bright and the band — alto sax/flautist Nathan-Paul, trumpeter Matt Garrett, trombonist Max Brady, guitarist Jimmy Parsons, bassist Matthew DeRubertis, keyboardist Theron Brown and drummer Jonathan Fields — there will also be a small string section featuring violinists Megan Sullivan, Andréa Belding Elson and Luis Angel Salazar for about half the set.
“You’ll see and hear some of our most favorite songs but performed with strings, which was how we originally wrote them for the studio,” Bright said.
The band will also be playing six new songs laced with the string section.
Bright admits he’ll miss being on stage. “I’d never say I was a great musician at all. I’m just really good at being in front of people on a stage. From that first show at The Lockview [then fronting Wesley Bright & The Hi-Lites] back in 2012, that was the first time. And ever since then it’s just been the stage is my home. So it will be a little bittersweet,” Bright said.
Meanwhile, The Honeytones, who are all regular working cats on the N.E. Ohio music scene, will continue as an instrumental band between their other individual gigs.
“It’s not THE last time I’ll be on stage," Bright said. "It’s just the last time for now.”
So Thursday is International Clash Day, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the release of the Clash’s powerful album “London Calling.”
Several cities around the world from Tucson, Arizona, to Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Spain, to Kent, Ohio, are participating, as well as many radio stations and record stores. The concept isn’t just to shout out one of the best rock records of the '80s and promote its deluxe repackaging, but also to celebrate music as a tool for social consciousnesses and inclusion.
The mayor of Kent made a proclamation: “The City of Kent, OH, reaffirms its commitment to playing a vital role in recognizing, celebrating and supporting the musical and artistic culture of our community and region ... therefore, I, Jerry Fiala, Mayor of the City of Kent, OH, do hereby proclaim February 7-9, 2019 as International Clash Day, and I encourage all citizens to Rock the Casbah.”
There will be several Clash-related events throughout the weekend. At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, the Kent Stage will show a free screening of the 2007 documentary “Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten.”
Longtime Cleveland-based Pogues tribute band the Boys From County Hell will break out a set of Clash tunes starting at 7 p.m. Friday at Water Street Tavern. EuroGyro will play host to “Kiss Your Clash Goodbye,” featuring a gaggle of area bands including Worm Mother, Young Steve, ShiSho and more.
Kent beer maker MadCap Brew Co. has brewed a special “Combat Bock” for the occasion that will be available in several venues, and it will host Scratch at MadCap Clash Day flea market on Saturday. Go to https://m.facebook.com/KentClashDay/ for more events and details.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.