Bill Powers and Shelley Gray moved to Central Oregon from Colorado in late summer of 2014. Earlier that year also marked the release of the pair's second album as Honey Don't, "Heart Like a Wheel." And that was also the last Honey Don't album to be released—until now.
On Friday, Jan. 14, the third Honey Don't album will be available on Bandcamp for all. Running 13 songs deep and titled "Threadbare," the album also features a handful of other Central Oregon musicians inlcuding CJ Neary, Don Hawkins and Benji Nagel—a group that has become closer and closer in its musical relationship over the years.
"It's kind of been like the five-year plan for our releases [laughs]. When we made our second record I had some of the songs ready that are on this record. We pushed on through and decided we're releasing the record on Bandcamp," says Bill Powers.
This is actually the first time Powers and Gray are utilizing Bandcamp and pre-sales for a release with a record, a decision that Powers feels good about because it places more of the power with the artist and the fans who really want to go above and beyond to support their favorite musicians.
All of the songs (except for "Five Foot Four From Fort Worth") on this new record are from the days of Honey Don't in Colorado, but they are also songs that have been big in Honey Don't sets here in Central Oregon.
"A lot of it is material we've played here ever since we've gotten here. We were just trying to get a foothold here in Bend with work besides music, and we were trying to get involved in the scene. We showed up without jobs in 2014, and back then that may have been a particularly hard time to land. Our family thought we were nuts," says Powers. "The tunes, in a lot of ways, took on a new life and became staples of our sets that I had yet to record."
Leaning more into their bluegrass side on this album, Powers tells the Source he is pleased with the tracklisting and flow of all 13 songs. The two singles for the record share the same jubilant energy, with many highlights of fiddle, mandolin and dobro, along with those classic Honey Don't harmonies. These songs just feel good to listen to and they put a string-fueled pep into your step. Powers notes that the album itself kind of took on a role as an ode to their time spent in Colorado, with songs inspired by the water, community, people and memories made.
"What pulled the whole thing together is the song 'Threadbare.' I remember playing that tune when we made our first record back in 2009. And the song came more into its own here in Oregon than in Colorado. A lot of it is a culmination, and sort of a farewell to Colorado. I wasn't doing that intentionally but there's so much reference to Colorado on there."
Powers' writing style isn't to make throwaway tracks—which is why getting many of these songs recorded is such a full-circle moment for Honey Don't, as those inspirations from years ago still linger. New inspiration is still found aplenty, as Powers shares with me that he has gained so much inspiration from their time in Central Oregon, but he hasn't yet written those "Oregon" songs just yet.
Now with "Threadbare" about to release, Powers is already looking forward to that next project where he can use that new inspiration. But before that time comes Honey Don't will host a CD release party at McMenamins on Jan. 26 as they continue to push the release of "Threadbare" into the summer.
"I can't wait. We had a couple of concerts we were going to do at the house and it was a letdown to not be able to go forward with those and I hate canceling things. I just have my fingers crossed that we don't get word that we can't have the shows due to COVID. I am mentally prepared for it not to happen, but right now it is happening. So hopefully that will happen and it will be great. We have some guests that will be joining us as well," says Powers. "It's definitely very exciting."
Honey Don't CD Release
Tue., Jan. 26, 6-9pm
McMenamin's Old St. Francis School
700 NW Bond St., Bend
No cover, all ages