Mixed Bunch Creates Sweet Sound
Honey Child combines a variety of musical styles

Touring to promote a new CD can be grueling work, but live performances are what the band Honey Child does best. And USC will get its own Honey Child show tomorrow night on the Russell House Patio.

During the past 18 months, Honey Child has worked on its second album, "Taller." Grammy-nominated Clarke Rigsby produced the album, which is a thorough studio effort.

"We put out our first album in 1997. We were together a year, so we just threw it together," said Honey Child vocalist Heather Higgs. "This album is three or four years after the first. We've played many more shows, and have had a lot more practice writing music and throwing away songs."

The new album also incorporates a 15-piece string orchestra directed and arranged by Emmy-award-winning composer Kevin Stoller. Notable players include Sam Pilafian, who has played tuba for Pink Floyd and the Boston Pops, and Kenny Skaggs, mandolin player for the Glen Campbell Band.

Honey Child, however, has become known primarily for its live shows. Through constant performing, the band has attracted many fans and much praise. Honey Child was selected to perform on the H.O.R.D.E. tour and named Arizona's best unsigned band in the Kool Band 2 Band Combat Competition. The Arizona Republic newspaper called Honey Child the best straight-ahead rock band of 2000.

The members of the band hail from up and down the East Coast, but they came together in Arizona. The focal point of the group is Higgs, whose vocal talents have drawn comparisons to Janis Joplin and Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. Guitar player Jason Montero, from New Jersey, also sings a few tracks on the new CD and often offers harmony to Heather's lead.

Dino Gisiano made the leap from chemical engineer to musician with ease. He writes a lot of music, along with "Open D," a column for Fender's online music magazine, 60 Cycle Hum.

Joe Frost brings to the band his brand of Afro-Cuban drumming, which he has been playing for more than 40 years. Drummer Greg Lisi, known as the "cute one," is another New Jersey native. Steve Green, the bass player, manages a wide variety of musical styles in his performances and is a veteran of the Arizona music scene.

The band has moved its headquarters, however, from Arizona back to the East Coast, specifically Charlotte, N.C.

"It's a little strange out West, not too many people," Higgs said. "The population is denser on the East Coast, which has potential for more work. We've been touring out here for the past three months, about 10 or 15 places."

The new CD is easy to get into; many of the tracks are laid back, but the album has just enough upbeat songs to bounce to. The interplay between the six musicians is well-balanced, and no particular sound is overpowering.

Higgs' voice provides an emotional edge, and Montero's complementary vocal harmonies add detail to many of the songs. "Naked" especially shows off Higgs' powerful voice and the string orchestra. The sound avoids the poppy and juvenile sounds of the current mainstream and is reminiscent of the rock music from the 1960s and 70s.

"Our influences do include sounds from the '60s and '70s, which was more musical than today," Higgs said. "It was music for music's sake, not like today, which just follows current tastes. It isn't a throwback to that era, though; our own sounds comes through."

The band, which believes live performances define it best and bring its fans closer, has played all over the nation. Honey Child has also performed with a number of well-known artists, such as Gypsy Kings, Blues Traveler, Barenaked Ladies, Fastball, Ben Harper and Box Set.

Tomorrow's 7 p.m. show will mark Honey Child's first in Columbia. Admission will be free. The CD "Taller" is available for purchase online at www.honey-child.com, which also features three of the album's tracks in streaming audio format.

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