In this column’s continuing declaration of the too often unacknowledged musical variety of the North Bay, let us not forget world music.
While the genre has less cache than it did in the 80s and 90s, perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, it isn’t a genre at all but a fusion of styles and musical traditions that often excels most when kept out of the corrupting influences of the mainstream music machine. Witness the newly minted combination of Northern California world-music-and-more groups Honey of the Heart and BrightSide Blue.
Rather than drawing from the uptempo, radio-friendly sounds of early world music giants like Paul Simon and David Byrne, these two bands feel much more situated in the independent sounds of bass virtuoso and world-funk maven Laura Lova, with a dash of the Americana that we all so love in these parts.
The dreamy folk funk of Honey of the Heart blends surprisingly with the flamenco groove of BrightSide Blue in their new joint album, Live from the Center 2021. While the album features a mix of covers and originals, it can sometimes be unclear which is which, so warmly familiar do the original songs sound—not in any ordinary way but in a timeless one.
These two groups found harmony in the dissonance of the pandemic. Every week they met safely outdoors to support one another and keep spirits high by learning each other’s tunes. Their story of resilience through hard times is a testament to the healing power of music and community.
In listening to these hopeful tunes of easy-rocking positivity arranged and recorded through these last few years of general bleakness, I can’t help but reflect on the healing that creating art in the community had for me. I hope, dear reader, that listening to these shining songbirds will do the same for you.
Honey of the Heart and BrightSide Blue play from 7 pm to 11 pm, Friday, December 16 HopMonk Tavern, 224 Vintage Way Novato.