We have all been affected by cancer one way or another in life. Those who survive it, or have been affected by it, thrive to provide support to anyone and everyone who sadly must encounter it. Last weekend, the brilliant Honky-Tonk-Rockabilly band The Honkabillies played at their annual charity event in which they raise money towards Cancer Research, and I was lucky enough to be a part of that wonderful and inspiring night.
The Honkabillies began in 2005. I’ll set the scene, a time before the infamous ‘The Dark Knight’ was released or the period before everyone was glued to their screens and liking, sharing and posting 24/7. Before they coined their brilliant name, the band began as The Doggone Country Band with Frankie Riedel Senior as lead vocalist and founding member. Frankie Senior began taking the band up and down the UK and throughout Germany for gigs. In 2006 Frankie junior joined, which was during the band’s appearance at the Annual Country Music Messe in Berlin.
The band went through many changes until it coined itself as its current incarnation. The current band, since 2016, is a 4-piece line-up including Frankie Senior [lead vocalist and acoustic guitar], Frankie junior [lead guitar, lap steel and backing vocals], Clair Gipps [drums] and Rich Lyon [Double bass]. The Honkabillies try to encapsulate many sub-genres of 1950’s music including: Honky-Tonk, Country, Hilbilly, Rockabilly and Swing and it is definitely clear when listening to them at the Annual Charity gig that they have a perfect blend of these sub-genres which has created something unique yet also homely, something that everyone can enjoy! An inquiry I made to the band was why they had chosen this route of music especially in todays generation, it was fresh to see a younger generation taking on their mother and fathers’ love of 40s/50s music. Frankie junior himself has gone through the rebellious teenage stage and flowed into the metal and punk scene shortly after, always thinking that country wasn’t cool, now he acknowledges that his mother and father’s taste of music is awesome and that you do not need to stick to one music style! Claire Gipps [drums] also commented on the music style of the band, having been raised in a similar environment to Frankie Junior and naturally developed a similar love for her parent’s music! I can tell you that when seeing the band perform live, it is very much a breath of fresh air, a spin on classic music which everyone loves, creating a fun and lively atmosphere throughout the audience. Believe me, you couldn’t stop the people from dancing!
The Honkabillies have always performed at charity gigs, however their annual event which they themselves founded hits home. Frankie Seniors wife, Frankie Juniors mother was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer a few years back, fortunately, the cancer was caught and removed successfully! In honour of Jacqueline Riedel and Cancer Research the band decided to give something back! Three years ago, Frankie senior suggested the idea of creating the event to raise money for Cancer Research UK and 3 years later, I helped at that very event! As well as the usual 4-piece band, the youngest brother, Billy Riedel also joined The Honkabillies on stage for two songs dedicated especially to his mother, Jacqueline. The night was full of cheers, singing and dancing and was far from something which focused on sadness. The atmosphere of the crowd and the band created such a positive, inviting space, full of life!
To date, the event has made up to £5,000 towards Cancer Research and The Honkabillies plan to head towards 10,000 and beyond in the next few years! There is no limit for The Honkabillies, they want to continue to raise money until they cannot play guitar anymore, hold a drum stick, or sing a tune!
What is most interesting to me, is that the band is a family, meaning times must get tough right? Frankie junior believes that it ‘makes’ or ‘breaks’ a family to work together in such an intense atmosphere as ¾’s of the band is family! In previous years, the youngest brother, Billy Riedel also played drums and double bass for the band on several occasions! Whenever times get tough, Frankie junior recalls the brilliant things that the band has achieved throughout the years and it makes him very proud to say that he has done it all with his family. The band has been fortunate enough to travel across the world to play together in places such as England, Wales, Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, Holland and The USA and experiencing all of that alongside your family members is something the band will never regret!
So, what’s next for the band? The Honkabillies are working on follow-up material to their 2018 4-track vinyl EP and hope to finish off another EP of more original songs. The sky is the limit for these wonderful guys and gal and I cannot wait for next years ‘The honkabillies & Friends vs Cancer’!
Check out The Honkabillies on their various social medias: