Whether bands, singer songwriters or duets, excellent music has always been an important part of setting the vibe in CtrCity.
For the past six years, The Honeydrops, a five-piece vintage R&B blues and soul band has been one of the mainstays of live music at the Packing House. We sat down with lead singer Brooke Aston to talk about what makes The Honeydrops special and what playing regularly in CtrCity means to the band.
Professionally trained as an actor and singer, (she is a BFA graduate of Cal State Fullerton’s acclaimed theatre program), Brooke has extensive experience in musical theater and before joining The Honeydrops, played in a funk band, currently plays in a Motown cover band and while living in New York, booked high-end singing gigs playing top 40 music for million dollar bar mitzvahs and weddings.
Moving back to Orange County after marrying and having her first child, Brooke was itching to get back into playing live with a band. “Rockin’ Ramos, our drummer, had always played in rockabilly bands,” she tells us. “He decided he wanted to do a jump blues band after the group he was in had dissolved.” Jump blues is an uptempo type of blues and one of the genres that led to rock n’ roll. Ramos found Brooke on a website called Bandmix.com, kind of a Facebook for musicians and they quickly connected.
“Our tagline is roots rock n’ roll and vintage rhythm and blues; kind of anything in the ‘50s era but we do jazz tunes, we do a couple of blues songs (old-style blues) that weren’t written down until the ‘70s, we do a couple of rockabilly tunes, everything kind of adjacent to old school R&B,” she tells us.
“It wasn’t a genre that I have ever worked in before, but when I started learning the music and signing it, I found it suits my sensibility and my vocal type perfectly. It just feels like I should have been singing this all my life because it is a fuller sound. It has a lot of emphasis on stories and lyrics which suits my musical theatre background.”
The Packing House was the second gig the newly formed Honeydrops booked, and years later, they play there at least once a month and sometimes for special events.
Once in awhile, they even have a chance to become a special part of people’s lives. “This one day we were playing at the MAKE building for a special event,” Brooke tells us. “And this couple comes up to us and they say ‘Hey, we went on our first date a year ago and you guys just happened to be playing, and we’re getting married and we want you guys to play at our wedding.’”
In between Packing House gigs, The Honeydrops tour the huge rockabilly scene in the Southwest, even opening for rockabilly legends Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Brooke also keeps busy directing local shows, putting together custom bands and gigging around town, but CtrCity Anaheim is always home.
“I like playing at the Packing House,” Brooke says, “Because the vibe there is just…any kind of person walks into the Packing House and every kind of person starts to bop their head. It doesn’t matter what they look like or how old they are… this music is for anybody.”