The Honeydogs take up residency at the Aster this weekend


The Honeydogs have a long history behind them, with 10 studio releases under their belt and 16 years' worth of time well-spent laying down bricks in the Minnesota music scene. They are the sort of band that are always the right choice when you are grinding your teeth for a new song, because the chances are they have some gem hidden on an album somewhere that you haven't spent enough time loving. Their sound has evolved over the years, progressing from their earliest rock-heavy releases to their latest, semi-acoustic blues-and-funk fusion sound.


The Honeydogs don't fit squarely into the indie-folk genre, nor should they. Adam Levy is a careful songwriter, the kind who manages to weave intelligent social commentary into his lyrics without asserting an agenda. The sound the band accomplishes pulls unabashedly from as assortment of well-chosen influences a la the Replacements, B.B. King, and Sly and the Family Stone--yes, all that, and more when you mix it together. Levy's voice grows on you instantly, warmly pressing into you by the second verse, strengthened by the guitar strings and sometimes elevated with trumpet and organ elements. The songs can be as rough-edged as a whiskeyed Saturday night or as slow as a Sunday barbecue; either way, they carry that trace of homegrown Minnesota folk.

The band's newest material so far demonstrates exactly that breadth, but with all the maturity of musicians who have been around the block. This weekend, long time supporters and newly minted fans alike will have the opportunity to experience all the glory of Honeydogs in the intimate setting of the Aster Café. With two shows booked for Friday and Saturday night, the band will be debuting a handful of brand new material--an exciting preview of their upcoming album, to be released this fall.

"The shows at the Aster are going to be intimate," said band manager Lily Troia of the Friday and Saturday night gigs. "It'll be like bringing the living room into the band's lap, with a homey, conversational feel."

Two of the new songs you can hear for yourself on Southern Songbook here. It's gorgeous stuff--"scrappy," as Troia referred to it, like a band that has weathered nearly two decades together should sound. It would seem that the Honeydogs are getting back to the basics, having lost none of the lyrical intricacies that Levy is so good at and allowing plenty of breathing room.

The Aster shows will feature moonlight appearances by Brian Halverson and Darren Jackson (Kid Dakota), who will both be present for each night. Peter Anderson will bring out his accordion. You can expect foot stomping, joke swapping, storytelling, and, of course, an exclusive look at an iconic Minneapolis band.

The Honeydogs are playing at the Aster Café on St. Anthony Main at 9 p.m. on Friday, June 4 and Saturday, June 5. $15. Call ahead for reservations: 612 379 3138.