The Nouveaux Honkies bringing the show back to Florence
FLORENCE, S.C. – She’s been around the world and back again, but now Rebecca Dawkins is bringing her traveling show home.
Well, at least for a night.
That’s right, Florence folks. The Florence native and her husband, Tim – more commonly known simply as The Nouveaux Honkies – will perform Friday at Local Motive Brewing.
It’s a show Dawkins says she’s looking forward to. After all, it’s been a while since The Nouveaux Honkies have graced a Florence stage.
“We played Victors right when things downtown were sort of starting to take off,” she said. “So we’re excited to get back and see all the new happenings. And of course, it’s always fun to see old friends.”
Florence is where Dawkins got her start on the violin. She graduated from West Florence High School in 1994 and then hit the road for brighter lights and bigger horizons. She eventually landed in Port Salerno, Florida, a small commercial fishing town.
There, she and O’Donnell joined forces to become The Nouveaux Honkies. The duo started out playing Saturday nights in a small café, but it didn’t take long for their funky, eclectic style to garner a full-blown pack of the honky faithful.
“We started gradually getting better money offers, and sometimes we’d hire a bass player and drummer to play with us,” O’Donnell said. “People started coming out to the shows, we recorded an album, and eventually, it got to the point where we were making enough to pay the bills so we decided to give it a shot full time. We’ve been doing it ever since.”
The duo mostly stuck around Florida for several years, but then in mid-2014, the newlyweds – oh, yeah, did we forget to mention that part? Yep, they got hitched – decided to take to the road for an extended ride.
“We rebuilt our RV and decided we wanted to live on the road for a while,” Dawkins said. “We started out in South Florida then headed out. We went out west and up north and then as far east as Cape Cod, then we came back south for the winter.”
The plan, at that point, was for the couple to continue living in the RV. But, thanks to some testy regulations that just don’t adhere to the road less traveled, they soon learned living out their RV dream wasn’t going to be easy.
“We found out you can’t just buy a piece of property and park your RV on it,” O’Donnell said, chuckling. “Turns out you need a place that actually has an existing structure, so we found a house in Stuart (Florida) and bought it. It was a house built in the ’20s that they just kept adding on to and adding on to again. So we went in there, put a power pole in and parked the RV. We stayed in the RV and renovated the house.”
But the couple knew they wanted another, more central home base to tour from, too, so they started looking in the mountains of Tennessee.
“We based out of Tennessee for two summers and fell in love with the Smokies,” Dawkins said. “So we started looking in that area and decided on Knoxville. It’s a great place. It’s like a small big town with a really great vibe. So we bought a house here that we’ve renovated. And now we’re ‘bistatual.’”
The duo’s travels culminated in the release of a new album, “Loud in Here.” And though their digs have changed, the music hasn’t. Recorded at The Zone in Dripping Springs, Texas, the duo’s sound still packs the same hard-hitting punch of blues, swing, early country paired with beautiful vocals and melodic harmonies.
“I guess I’d say our music is a slice of Americana. It’s a combination of some early country to blues, even some early jazz and swing,” O’Donnell said. “It’s basically influenced by the stuff I listen to, stuff that inspires me before modern music.”
O’Donnell said the new record features a slew of great guest performances by some of Texas’ best musicians. But he says it’s a more naked version of the Honkies than past records.
“I think we stripped it down on this one and really focused on the songs,” O’Donnell said. “I hear things pretty big in my head usually, so it’s hard for me to strip them down. But with ‘Loud in Here,’ we really wanted to allow the record to have those instrumental hooks but not be completely dependent upon them. We wanted songs that you can sit down and play as a duo, that you don’t need a full band to pull off. So we really put a focus on the lyrical and vocal value of the songs. It was a different, kind of weird approach for me, but a fun one. And we both love the record.”
Dawkins agreed and said she feels like the new album reflects a deeper, more mature Honkies.
“I like that it’s a little raw,” Dawkins said. “We’re still having fun and love performing. But there’s more back and forth on the love songs. I think it’s a really good reflection of where we are now. We’re very proud of it.”
“Loud in Here” is available for purchase on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and other online music stores. Copies of the CD, as well as past Nouveaux Honkies CDs, also will be available for purchase at the Local Motive show.