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An Interview With Honeysuckle

An Interview With Honeysuckle

Photos of Honeysuckle the band, featured on Upstate of Mind | Compas Life
We are absolutely honored to feature one of our favorite (and local!) bands of all time, Honeysuckle! Hailing from Saratoga Springs, NY, this Folk/Americana duo, comprised of Holly McGarry and Chris Bloniarz, has been making waves across the country with their soulful melodies and captivating performances. From the stages of Newport Folk Festival to Lollapalooza, Honeysuckle has enchanted audiences with their rich harmonies and heartfelt lyrics. Their achievements speak volumes, including being named Americana Artist of the Year (2019) and Folk Artist of the Year (2018) at the Boston Music Awards. With nominations every year since 2016 and recognition from NPR as one of the "Top 10 bands of 2016 So Far," Honeysuckle's talent is undeniable, captivating, and truly inspiring.  We were fortunate to have some of our questions answered by the musical couple, and we're very excited to share some of their narratives with you.

How did you meet and where are you all from?

Chris grew up in a town called Wantagh on Long Island, and I [Holly] was raised primarily in Sandpoint, Idaho. We met at Berklee College of Music through some mutual friends and became a band under the name Honeysuckle in 2014. 

Where did you get the band name “Honeysuckle”?

Not any special meaning in particular. We knew we wanted a name that related to nature in some way. After messing around with several different plant and bird name ideas, Honeysuckle was the one that felt right.  

How long have you two been playing music? What instruments do you each play?

Chris began playing music at the very early age of 4. He started on the piano and then moved on to violin, guitar, mandolin, banjo and drums. He can basically play anything! I started playing guitar at age 12 and dabble a bit with the banjo. 

Can you describe your songwriting and creative process as a group?

Typically I will write lyrics and a chord structure for a song and then bring it to Chris. He then makes adjustments to the arrangement. Sometimes we go with how I wrote things initially and other times Chris ends up changing the form or chords, etc. It’s a collaborative approach but for the most part it starts with a finished version of a song that then goes through a few different arrangement phases. 

How do you incorporate storytelling into your songs/what themes or narratives do you find yourselves drawn to?

Many of my songs have to do with grief in different forms. I find that telling my stories through different lenses, with what feel like different characters, helps me to process things that I would otherwise have difficulty channeling. I’ve always loved songwriters like Gillian Welch who are experts in storytelling. Though I may never reach the heights of my favorite storytelling artists, I feel good about where my creative voice has settled. 

Can you share the story behind one of your songs and what inspired its creation?

“Two Stone Birds,” which was released on our album Great Divide, is about a time when I was entrusted with a few family heirlooms that I had to transport from Sandpoint, ID to Boston, MA where we were living at the time. The items were two porcelain parakeets and a large wooden jewelry box that my great grandfather had made. I was certain that after the first flight of the day, where the plane was so small you couldn’t even have a personal item, I would have nothing left but some splinters of wood. The flight attendants surprised me however and saved the jewelry box and birds from destruction by storing them in their private closet. The song came from both the funny feeling of traveling with these somewhat odd items that people ogled at (wooden luggage never caught on for a reason) and grappling with what we all carry with us unseen from the past. 

What was your first live show like? Where was it?

I believe our first show as a trio was at a venue called Radio Bean in Burlington, VT. I honestly can’t remember much about the show itself other than that it felt like a big adventure heading to a new city and playing these songs that were so fresh and exciting. I feel like there were a lot of nerves but also a feeling of, wow! I think we have something pretty good here!

Could you share a memorable moment from one of your performances that stands out to you as particularly special or unique?

We’ve had a few very special moments but one that I’m most honored by is that at a show in Washington, DC we got to be a part of a couple’s proposal (they said yes!). It means a lot when you are trusted with a moment like that. 

Can you tell us more about the concert on top of the freezer? 

When I was probably still in high school the local health food store decided they wanted to try a music series where musicians played on top of their freezer. For a long time I took the advice of a family friend, “never turn down a gig!” which led me to some pretty memorable performances. While the series was short lived I found it pretty entertaining to perform for shoppers from my perch on the top of the freezer.

Do you play locally? Any upcoming shows in the Upstate Area?

  • May 30th, 2024 at The Cock n Bull Galway, NY

  • Sept 7th, 2024 at Caffe Lena Saratoga Springs, NY

Can you share any memorable experiences from life on the road?

The year we graduated from college, we went on tour with a band from my hometown called Harold’s IGA. There are many stories that could be shared from that trip, but on the very first night we were playing at a bar in Moscow, ID. Around 1am I realized we didn’t have a place to stay that night (we typically camped at that time or stayed with friends) so I called a musician who used to live in the area (thank goodness he answered!) and he miraculously found us a place we could stay the night. It was a friend of his from out of town and he said, you’ll know it’s the right place because there’s a deer on the porch. Well, he was right! Making our way through the darkness we found a house with a rotting deer carcass right there on the porch. Often the least glamorous nights on the road are the most fun. 

Are there any famous musicians that influence you/that you love?

A few artists that Chris and I both love and have been greatly influenced by are; Wilco, Andrew Bird, Gillian Welch and Crosby Stills and Nash. 

Lastly, what’s your favorite thing about Upstate? 

We’re still somewhat new to the area but I would say that I love how welcoming that area has been creatively. There’s such a wealth of incredible artists in the area. I also feel that’s is a great combination of things that Chris and I loved about our hometowns, there’s so much art and culture but it also has a friendly small town feel. 

Honeysuckle is also currently working on releasing three new singles this year and have recently launched our own Patreon channel! Check them out at!

Be sure to give Honeysuckle a listen on Spotify!



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