Wednesday, December 13, 2023


Honey Made lays down driving funk, soul and hip-hop in new EP titled Charge It To The Band Fund




By Bobby Martin


It has been a long road with many twists and turns, but Austin based funk group Honey Made has released their newest EP called Charge It To The Band Fund, which has an eclectic mix of soul, funk, a little hip hop and plenty of horns.


The newest single, “Ashy Pockets (My Mode)” is a remix of an original track that was very much focused on the “green culture,” McDaniel explained. Producer John Ryan liked the chorus and hook of “Ashy Pockets” and wanted to rework the arrangement and lyrics for radio that is now being released on the new EP.


“The sentiment is still there but the focus is now on why this person maybe wants to smoke,” Trombonist Donald McDaniel said. “Like, what is he trying to get away from or self-medicate with. The theme of that song is that ‘I’m in a dead end job. I can’t wait to get off work and get in my mode.’”


Honey Made is a nine piece funk band consisting of: Willie Barnes, Vocals; Donald Ford Jr., vocals; Brian Cokeley, Keys; Lee Braverman, Bass; Chris Barnes, Drums & Vocals; Mark Saldana, Percussion; Dustin Hunter, Tenor Saxophone & Baritone Saxophone; Joseph Marrow, Trumpet & Flugelhorn; and Donald McDaniel, Trombone.


Honey Made as a group came onto the Austin music scene in 2018, but their story goes back to 2014 when members of the band went by Mama K and the Shades. Mama K and the Shades was founded by saxophonist David McKnight and singer Kelsey Garcia. While they had a great run, in 2015 tragedy struck after a show they were playing in San Marcus just south of Austin. The venue they were playing at had a beach theme, and after the gig, members of the band decided to swim in the San Marcus river. McKnight went in the water and never came back up. The band gathered afterward and decided that David would have wanted them to keep performing following his death.


“We had a lot of original music with that band, and we did release a record after his death,” said McDaniel. “The actual name of that record was Honey Made.”


McDaniel said bands can be kind of like marriages, and as they were coming upon the fall of 2017 they were in the studio. They hired Steve Berlin of Los Lobos fame to produce the album Brand New, and McDaniel said it is very high quality, although there were some intense moments of criticism that McDaniel said made the product better. However, in the middle of the session Garcia quit the band, leaving the rest of the nine-piece funk group wondering what to do.


They had to go back, take out her vocals and re-track everything they had done to that point. The band finished the record, but they knew they could no longer be Mama K and the Shades.


McDaniel said that when the music was really good, McKnight used to say, “well that’s just honey made.” In a way of honoring their founder and continuing the funk, they decided that would be the choice.


“We said why don’t we just be Honey Made?” McDaniel recalled. “Well, that makes perfect sense. It’s a tribute to David and kind of our identity. We wouldn’t be a band without David.”


The name change made things tough, as they had established themselves with their former moniker and they were struggling to get gigs and they had debts to pay off from the making of Brand New.


Fast forward to 2019 and McDaniel came up with a plan to re-establish their identity and release music under the new name. He was at the South By Southwest Festival and the Austin Music Foundation was putting on educational sessions, and one free session was to meet talent buyers. They managed to get booked for a show at Stubbs, in the indoor venue in June 2019 which ended up being the launch of the band Honey Made.


The wild journey continued, and just as they were getting started the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to all momentum. They wrote music and rehearsed as much as they could and put out “stay at home sessions.”


“The music that is on the new EP was written largely while we were isolated,” McDaniel said. “We kept creating even though we couldn’t get out.”


The EP is set for release in November 17 and will be available on all major platforms. It features seven very different tracks with a wide range of emotions emitting from the tunes. It has all the elements a funk album should have, whether it is the fun loving “Get On Up” and “Vibin”, the soulful R&B sound of “Upstairs and “Love It”, the relatable aspect of being fed up in songs like “Ashy Pockets (My Mode)” and “FYC” , or a song of gratitude like “DFA”-standing for D-Bone Funk Amazing named after McDaniel, who plays trombone, and what he’s done for the band.


“When you listen to this EP, you’ll see that we just refuse to be defined by a single genre,” McDaniel said. “We don’t just play the heck out of a single sound. That’s not us. In this record there’s a little more hip hop influence, but then there are songs like ‘Upstairs’ that is like an old MoTown sound.”


He added, “We are just a really, really good live band.”


McDaniel loves the diversity of the group, with multiple ethnicities and age ranging from late 20s to Donald’s age of 68-years-old. He said music is a unifier, and people of different walks of life can get on the same page through it.


“I really love these guys and they’re an excellent group of musicians,” said McDaniel. “Everything I’ve ever done for the band is because I truly believe in these musicians. I want us all to be successful. This business is a real grind and it is hard, but I think our music is really good. The only reason we do it is for the music at the end of the day.” 




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