Honey Whiskey Trio: Measuring Success in Audience Connection
Many people dread the thought of their school reunion. But without it, Bob Cole Conservatory of Music alumnae Courtney Politano, Ann Louise Thaiss and Christina Wilson would never have created their American folk a capella group—Honey Whiskey Trio.
The 10-year reunion of CSULB's premier vocal jazz ensemble, Pacific Standard Time, was the pivotal moment that led to their collaboration. Since that night, Honey Whiskey Trio has maintained the same sense of community that brought them together with audiences all along the West Coast and transitioned into doing more American folk music, picking up some guitar, banjo and mandolin along the journey.
Since their inception, they have received many honors such as winning the 2013 Harmony Sweepstakes, an annual competition for a cappella groups of all vocal styles, and receiving an official showcase slot at the 2014 FAR-West Conference.
“After winning the 2013 Harmony Sweepstakes, everything was the happiest lil’ blur. We were embraced by the a cappella community so fiercely in our beginnings, and shortly after that, broke on to the folk Americana scene,” said group member Christina Wilson.
The “Honeys,” as they refer to themselves, are all full-time music teachers who have brought their passion for education to the stage through musical storytelling. They arrange and explore music from front porches, music halls, and hymn books.
“We started honing in on our educational skills and community outreach by partnering with several performance venues and nonprofit organizations. We realize how important music education is, and strive to provide music to those that have little to no access to live performances,” Wilson said.
Community outreach became a staple of what they imagined Honey Whiskey Trio should be. As they began to gain a wider audience, they maintained a dynamic of sharing long chats, having laughs, and exchanging stories with people after their shows.
“We have been very fortunate to meet an incredible community within the house concert network on the West Coast,” Wilson said. “Some of these families have been opening their homes, porches, and backyards to traveling and local musicians for more than 30 years. That for us is fame. Giving an audience an experience like no other, that they will carry with them for life, that's the good stuff.”
The Honeys achieved this fame by self-releasing all of their own music and even going as far as hand making each of their CD covers.
“Making each CD sleeve is therapeutic, humbling, and keeps us close to our art,” Wilson said.
Although the group may have a slightly different approach to delivering and exposing their music to audiences, they believe it can sometimes work in one’s favor, noting Chance The Rapper’s 2017 Grammy win for “Coloring Book,” the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy.
“Artists are consistently changing how the consumer consumes, and if you can stay ahead of the curve, you've got a great shot at getting some attention,” Wilson said.
To see Honey Whiskey Trio live and join their American folk community, catch them at The Broken Drum on Aug. 3. For more information on the group and their upcoming performances, visit http://www.honeywhiskeytrio.com/