When a master songsmith like Tom T. Hall calls someone “a great credit to a wonderful Kentucky tradition,” it’s time to pull up a chair and pay attention. As it pertains to the nearly-decade-running duo The Local Honeys, he was right on the money. The duo—Linda Jean Stokley and Montana Hobbs—have long been an integral part of Kentucky’s musicscape, and on July 15th, they’ll be adding a new entry into the Bluegrass State’s rich musical canon. Their first release on La Honda Records (Colter Wall, Riddy Arman, Vincent Neil Emerson), The Local Honeys features ten winsome vignettes of rural Kentucky, conjuring 90’s alternatives sounds with hillbilly Radiohead lilts, soaring above layers of deep grooves and rich tones masterfully curated by longtime mentor Jesse Wells, a GRAMMY-nominated producer, musician (currently a member of Tyler Childers’ band The Food Stamps), and Assistant Director at the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State.
Today, The Local Honeys shared their first taste of the new album with “Dead Horses,” an emotional look at the tragedy of animal husbandry. With lines like “Suppose we’re all just animals with slightly different hides,” Stokely displays a cut and dried existence on the farm and the world at large while drums and banjo meld together propelling the tune from verse to verse. The accompanying music video finds Stokley and Hobbs surrounded by nostalgic photos of their equine counterparts, contributed by the band’s fanbase, adding weight to the meaning of the song itself. The“Dead Horses” video can be viewed right here and pre-order or pre-save The Local Honeys ahead of its July 15th release at this link.
Over the years, The Local Honeys have paid their dues, garnering countless accolades and accomplishments (tours with Tyler Childers, Colter Wall, praise from the New York Times), and have become the defining sound of real deal, honest-to-god Kentucky music. With The Local Honeys, Stokley and Hobbs ended up with the most nuanced, moody, deep-holler sound they have captured to date. “This is the first time we’ve actively gotten to express who we are and where we’re from” says Linda Jean, “The songs on the album speak for us,” adds Montana “they’re about what we know, reflections of us as people. We realized we have the power to add our own narrative into Kentucky music.”
More About The Local Honeys: Throughout The Local Honeys, the duo demand to be interpreted as creators and storytellers, not just purveyors of tradition. Similarly, the sounds captured within the project cement their place as innovators and rule-breakers. Rollicking banjo meets overdriven guitar hooks and blue-collar rural grit is met with lush melodies and nimble harmonies; it’s a project filled with juxtaposition and it isn’t by accident. It’s reflective of who they are and who they run with. Wells along with the rest of Childers’ band The Food Stamps – Rod Elkins (percussion) Craig Burletic (bass) and Josh Nolan (guitar) from Clay City, Kentucky, all lent their expertise and signature groove as collaborators during the session creating a fluidity, warmth, and cohesion that can only be created through friendship. “Who better to record an album that defines your sound than the people who helped you find your sound, the people that understand where you come from, how you listen and who you are,” The Local Honeys said. The project was engineered in Louisville at Lalaland by GRAMMY winner Anne Gauthier.
The songs on The Local Honeys speak to a new generation, a new Appalachian, the people who understand the beauty, the struggle, and the complexity of contemporary Appalachian life. In “The Ballad of Frank and Billy Buck,” Hobbs describes the grace, humor, and irony of an aging hillbilly leading up to the final moments of his unjust demise. Or there’s “If I Could Quit,” a song that grapples with the horrors of the ongoing opiate epidemic and the guttural pain of watching a friend deteriorate through addiction. Pride and sense of place run deep in songs like “Throw Me in the Thicket (When I Die),” a love letter about Linda’s family orchard in Central Kentucky. Playful colloquialisms and regional idiosyncrasies also permeate throughout the record as illustrated in “Better Than I Deserve,” a song built around an informal greeting Montana’s Papaw used throughout her childhood. The album is rounded out with “The L & N Don’t Stop Here No More,” (the only cover on the record written by Appalachian royalty and kin to Hobbs, Jean Ritchie) a song highlighting the hardships of post-coal communities painting an all too familiar scene of contemporary rural Appalachia. Reflecting upon these songs Linda notes, “Songwriting can freeze people in time like a photograph, preserving little nuances particular to specific cultures and I love that.”
Catch The Local Honeys On Tour:
May 20 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Crankie Festival
June 3 – Saxapahaw, NC – Haw River Ballroom
June 5 – Wilmington, NC – Bourgie Nights
June 10 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theatre
July 10 – Crossville, TN – Byrd’s Creek Music Festival
July 15- Nashville, TN- The Basement (album release show)
July 17- Knoxville, TN- Barley’s Taproom
July 19- Asheville, NC- The Grey Eagle
July 20- Decatur, GA- Eddie’s Attic
July 21- Memphis, TN- Hernando’s Hideaway
July 22- St. Louis, MO- Off Broadway
July 23- Kansas City, MO- Knucklehead’s
July 26- Denver, CO- Lost Lake Lounge
July 28- Red Lodge, MT- One Legged Magpie
July 29- Emigrant, MT- The Old Saloon
July 30- White Sulphur Springs, MT- Red Ants Pants Festival
July 31- Bozeman, MT- Live from the Divide
For more tour dates and ticket information, please visit thelocalhoneys.com/tour.