Donned in a light brown blazer and dark brown slacks, Honeyboy Carencro made his way to the stage. With a gentle, yet anxious stride, the singer made the most subtle of entrances and finally launched into the most humble of introductions, even though it was the CD release party of his album debut, The Widowmaker. And with a voice as smooth as his stage name, Honeyboy thanked his fans for theirsupport as he projected the audience back into the funkadelic soul era with his opening song, "Runaway."
Onstage, Honeyboy shows full confidence in himself and his music, even though his professional career started but just two years ago. "After you start playing live in front of people; just that interaction makes you never want to leave the stage," he says of making music as his career. "Putting yourself out to people; it's an awesome feeling." And although the New Orleans native only rocked and swayed slightly on the stage as he began to play his first official album single, "Row Yo! Motor," dance still held an important part in his burgeoning interest in music. When Honeyboy was just a child, he remembers hearing his mother's soul albums on repeat in his home. Greats such as Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry were heard whenever his mother decided to do chores. "My mother would be cleaning and dancing," he says. "That's burned into my memory. It made her so happy."
Such legends inspired the young soul-man, then known as Christian Simeon, to want to learn music, and he started out learning guitar and playing in his high school band. But more unconventionally, Honeyboy learned to play the drums, guitar and trombone by listening to his favorite bands on the radio and piecing together the sounds. Among them, "Sissy Strut," by The Meters and "Band Geek," by Prince were his first two accomplishments of learning the basics of music to become the multi-instrumentalist he is today.
Since then, for the past two years, Christian Simeon has reinvented himself as Honeyboy Carencro as an homage to the unforgettable blues legends (with equally unforgettable stage names) such as Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins and Howlin' Wolf. And with his newfound name and image, he and his backing band, Amps Electrick, have hooked up with local entertainment and artist development and management firm, Hypersoul, LLC, that have helped launch him from performing around the city as a Blue Nile staple, to rocking the crowd at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. He performed as a part of Hypersoul's, "Export NOLA," a New Orleans music experience that also featured local favorites such as Big Sam's Funky Nation and MyNameIsJohnMichael.
"It was amazing and the overall atmosphere of a music conference of that magnitude does nothing but exude energy," Honeyboy says of playing SXSW. "The people come out to hear all kinds of music and we tried to give them a taste of our version of NOLA music!"
In between playing music festivals, Honeyboy was working to record his debut album, The Widowmaker, which was released March 29. The inspiration and subsequent title of the album, comes from old blues musicians bragging of their female conquests.
"The old school blues artists always had these boastful claims of being the baddest man in town or the lady killer like no other. I just followed the legends and made my boast about being a widow maker," he says with a laugh.
His collection of heavy repetitive chords and choruses borrowing the soul from the 70s, the steady stride of ska and reggae, along with a pinch of Memphis rock-n-roll twang, Honeyboy has put together a collection of songs to with-stand the times.
"Thirty years from now, people wont be listening to what you're putting out now," he says. "Soul is timeless, and I want people to listen to this years from now and say, 'Hey this is great…' I want people to know that real music is still being played out here."
Get to know Honeyboy
Where Y'at: How does your sound fit into the New Orleans music scene?
Honeyboy: I think it fits quite well. I'm trying to follow in the footsteps of the Neville Brothers, they were a big influence on me.
WYAT: What has been your one of your favorite gigs thus far?
Honeyboy: Aspen, Colorado. This place called Belly Up. That's one of my favorite places to play. The vibe is so cool; It's up in the mountains. Everything is beautiful there. Dont get me wrong, nothing compares to New Orleans of course, but its like NOLA on a much smaller scale.
WYAT: Were you nervous the first time you performed and where was it?
Honeyboy: No I actually was not. I am a huge fan and disciple of Fishbone's lead singer Angelo Moore. So emulating his moves on stage when I started performing kind of set the standard of being a front man for me. It has always been make the people go crazy or go home!
WYAT: Did you ever think you would have an album out?
Honeyboy: Yes I have always wanted to do music and write my own original songs. This is a great journey I am on right now.
WYAT: What did you want to be if music didn't work out?
Honeyboy: Be like Indiana Jones! I am a huge history buff. I love the science of archeology.
WYAT: Where do u see yourself in the future?
Honeyboy: Spreading my music all over the world. Trying to give the world an alternative to their normal musical routine. While paying my respects to the amazing artist of the past.