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Some Of The Best Things In Life Really Are Free: Folk Rock Band honeyhoney At The Bootleg

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honeyhoney performing live (Katherine Peach/LAist)
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By Katherine Peach/Special to LAist

The guy-girl duo Ben Jaffe and Suzanne Santo comprises the band honeyhoney that defies a strict genre while creating foot-stomping music from an era long ago. Honeyhoney is in the midst of month-long a residency at the Bootleg Theater, located at 2220 Beverly Boulevard. Every Monday in March the two grace the stage with a full band, offering a free show, you heard me right…free.

Led by mostly acoustic guitars and the soulful voice of Santo, who plays both the fiddle and the banjo, honeyhoney evokes an old-time radio feel that would still feel right at home in a modern-day Tarantino film. Their first album, First Rodeo, full of grit and romantic doubt was released by Ironworks Records, a label owned by Jude Cole and "24" actor Kiefer Sutherland. Soon to follow is Billy Jack, a sophomore endeavor that focuses on more bluegrass and country roots.

Ask Santo to choose one of the group’s many influences, whether it be country, folk, rock, bluegrass or the crooning of Nancy Sinatra herself, she is the first to admit that their cacophony of sound does not commit to one genre. She explained their “cocktail of songs” are mixed according to Santo’s voice and their instruments. The two are all about mastering their own style.

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“Each genre goes so deep and it’s a difficult thing to really own them, because the more you play a certain kind of music you realize there is a huge tradition that goes behind it,” Jaffe said. “ We are just trying to learn our own zone of music.”

Before pairing up musically, the two lived a seemingly typical L.A. existence with Santo as a part-time actor and Jaffe composing music for Nickelodeon cartoons, as well as up to five different bands. The two met at a Halloween party through a mutual friend and the 20-somethings began collaborating soon after. Quickly, the duo gained notoriety thanks to attracting Internet success and by 2007 Jaffe and Santo decided to get serious by making honeyhoney a full-time gig.

“We love taking it down to that organic and acoustic section,” Santo said. “[For the residency] we have this full band and we got all these different elements that are really big in terms of sound, which is really cool about the Bootleg because it’s our opportunity to headline.”

The band will perform two more free shows at the Bootleg Theater March 21 and 28. To celebrate the release of “Billy Jack” honeyhoney will hit the road April 29 as a paired-down duo with Australian artist Xavier Rudd (www.xavierrudd.com/). The two plans reunite with a full band for a May 2 performance at the El Rey Theater for anyone who really believes that nothing in life is free.