Asheville now has a soundtrack. A debut release by Queen Bee and the Honeylovers, Asheville, features original songs with a nostalgic and vivacious sound and lyrics that celebrate the city’s past and present. “Our greatest inspiration is definitely 1930s small jazz combo and hot club swing,” says Whitney Moore, who sings lead vocals and helped write many of the tunes. It’s not all sweetness and light, however. “I’d say we play whimsical swing fusion with a satirical wink,” Moore adds. “Most of our tunes contain subtle nods to themes of social justice, but it comes in a spoonful of sugar (or honey, as it were).”
The band of mostly native Ashevillians, all of whom had played swing/jazz on other projects, performed its first show in December. James Posedel, of Michael Gamble and the Rhythm Serenaders, who plays piano for the Honeylovers, believes that Asheville’s “burgeoning jazz scene is brimming with raw, passion-fueled talent.” The Honeylovers, he adds, will appeal to a broad audience base. “It’s novel, catchy and friendly enough to draw in the casual, nonjazz listener,” he says. And, “the well-versed jazz listener will notice familiar swing progressions and harmonies, and they’ll appreciate the authentic and dedicated ‘nod’ to the swing idiom.”
Song titles include “Beacham’s Curve,” “Legend of Zelda Fitzgerald,” “Beaucatcher” and “Helen’s Bridge.” Moore says she could write forever about the history of her native Asheville and never run out of material. “They came directly from my grandparents, were local legends from my childhood, or I dug them up in the North Carolina Room at Pack Library,” she says of the stories behind the album’s 14 songs. Many were collaborations, with Moore putting words to music written by fellow band members. Three were cowritten with Michael Gamble, founder of the Rhythm Serenaders and organizer of Asheville’s Lindy Focus.
“Many of these tunes felt as though they wrote themselves,” Posedel says. “They were little, capsulated stories that seemed eager to wink into existence.” The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Matt Williams—who plays violin for the band—at his Weaverville studio, The Eagle Room. Other band members, many of whom play with well-known local groups, are Mattick Frick (guitar, vocals), Trevor Stoia (upright bass), Russ Wilson (drums), Henry Westmoreland (trumpet), Eric Heveron-Smith (trombone) and Steve Karla (guitar).
To learn more about upcoming shows or to purchase a CD, visit QueenBeeSwing.com, or find them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The quartet plays every Friday, 5–7 p.m., at The Foundry Hotel Asheville at 51 South Market Street.