The talented musical duo and husband-and-wife team of Bill Powers and Shelley Gray have deep roots in traditional music - they were half of the popular Paonia-based old-time bluegrass band Sweet Sunny South for 10 years - but it's an expanded sound that marks their newest musical endeavor, Honey Don't.
With soulful lyrics, folksy influences and a dash of country, swing and blues, the songs of Honey Don't are very much about living the good life.
"Our music is much more broad and all-encompassing Americana rather than bluegrass," Powers said. "We're a little more amped-up now."
The duo, along with fiddler, mandolinist and electric guitarist Randall Utterback, will perform on Friday, Feb. 22, at the Rifle campus of Colorado Mountain College. The performance is free to the public, following a tradition over the past four years of sponsored musical concerts and film showings for the community, hosted by CMC and Chevron.
Folk music for everyone
The band's songs are a mix of catchy, funny, sad and uplifting, and the variety lends them to please most everyone from fans of bluegrass to country swing and folk. But the quality of song writing from Powers and harmonies between these two close musicians are what bring an emotional quality and depth to the music.
As Dave McGee of TheBluegrassSpecial.com said, "Crackling with life and overflowing with soul, its music rare and true, Honey Don't exalts the human spirit."
"It's really straightforward music with a positive message," Powers said. "It's all based in folk music and that's the meaning of folk music - it's for folks. It's for everyone."
Musical "side project" for
different stage of life
The couple, who once toured extensively and performed across the country with Sweet Sunny South, said they are at a different stage of life than when they were traveling artists. Although music is still a significant part of their lives, they have other commitments, including jobs and two teenage children.
Honey Don't evolved as a passionate "side project" for the duo to explore new genres and song writing. For example, Powers said they have worked away from the single traditional microphone set-up of Sweet Sunny South. And they haven't been afraid to add elements like drums and electric guitars to "make people dance more," he said.
Although the band has had a limited touring schedule, their music has made an impact on a national audience. Their 2009 debut CD, "Honey Don't," hit the top 40 of the national Americana Music Charts for several weeks, topping off at number 25. The CD was one of five nominees in the bluegrass category for "Westword" newspaper's 2010 Showcase.
The band regularly plays with talented musicians from around Colorado. For their first album, Powers and Gray recorded with mandolinist Greg Schochet and fiddler Ryan Drickey.
Another album is in the works, Powers said, but with no set release date.
Honey Don't will perform in the Clough Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22, at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle, 3695 Airport Road. For more information about this free evening of Americana music, call 625-1871. For information about Honey Don't, go to honeydont.net.