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
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
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.”