“A righteous blast of working-class energy” — Clash
“Brilliant Band” — Craig Charles, BBC 6 Music
“I’m in love with Honeyfeet” — Benjamin Zephaniah
Ríoghnach Connolly & Honeyfeet are back with their ecstatic single “Work It”.
Arriving in tandem with a brand new official video today, the track heralds a wave of new activity for the Manchester collective, with fresh music and live dates all on the agenda for the year ahead.
Watch “Work It”’s music video
The opening track of their current album, ‘It’s Been A While, Buddy’ (out now on Stardust Works via AWAL), as its title may suggest “Work It” is a heart-pumping, pulse-quickening, funk’n’soul workout. A fusion of elastic basslines, brassy breakdowns, and piano-house hooks, Ríoghnach Connolly leads it all from the front with her commanding soulful vocal.
The track is also paired with the B-side “You Go To My Head”, the band’s laid-back take on the Fred Coots-composed classic, which was famously covered by Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday among others. Initially recorded as a distraction from the humdrum of lockdown, it sees the light of day for the first time in 2023, with this final studio version given its finishing touches by Werkha.
Speaking about “Work It” and how it came together with their current album, Phil Howley of Honeyfeet says:
“I love all of the new songs as they’ve all got such different personalities but I do really love “Work it” for its drama and scope…. The recording of this album I found to be one of the most inspirational and educational experiences of my whole musical career. We got to all work together in one space and got to watch the pieces come together before our very eyes. It was a truly democratic writing process, where we could listen and respond to each other in real time And then at the end of the day you could listen back and see that you created something really interesting. It was this process that I found to be such an enlightening and rewarding experience. I’m incredibly proud of the new material.”
Directed by Elle Brotherhood of On The Brink Studios and featuring a playful dance routine courtesy of movement artist Freya Jenkin, “Work It” is coupled with an energising official video shot around the Islington Mill creative hub in Salford. Watch the video here.
The announcement today also comes as Ríoghnach Connolly & Honeyfeet prepare to take their latest tunes to live rooms and festivals nationwide. With Ríoghnach solo dates, full band shows with Honeyfeet, and even a few fixtures with her co-collaborator Stuart McCallum in trad-folk side project The Breath; full dates and details are outlined as follows:
2023 LIVE DATES
RÍOGHNACH CONNOLLY / HONEYFEET / THE BREATH
16/03/2023 Saint Patricks festival, Armagh (Ríoghnach Connolly)
17/03/2023 Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans (Honeyfeet)
18/03/2023 Kanteena, Lancaster (Honeyfeet)
15/04/2023 Victoria Baths Springfest, Manchester (Honeyfeet)
28/04/2023 Camp Quirky, Northamptonshire (Honeyfeet)
04/05/2023 Trinity, Bristol (Honeyfeet)
12/05/2023 Boiling Wells Amphitheatre, Bristol (Ríoghnach Connolly)
13/05/2023 Hallé St Peter’s, Manchester (The Breath)
18/05/2023 Hootenanny Brixton, London (Honeyfeet)
10/06/2023 Fox and Firkin, London (supporting The Langan) (Ríoghnach Connolly)
15/07/2023 The David Hall, South Petherton (The Breath)
23/07/2023 Secret Garden Party, Huntingdon (Honeyfeet)
25/07/2023 Dalston Curve Garden, London (The Breath)
28/07/2023 Šramlfest, Znojmo (Honeyfeet)
04/08/2023 Underneath The Stars Festival, Barnsley (Honeyfeet)
11/08/2023 The Minack Theatre, Porthcurno (The Breath)
23/09/2023 Allen Valley Folk Festival, Allendale (The Breath)
30/09/2023 Sam Henry Weekend, Portrush (Ríoghnach Connolly)
20/10/2023 Folk Expo, Manchester (Honeyfeet)
08/11/2023 The Mount Without, Bristol (The Breath)
Tickets for all shows on sale now:
Honeyfeet / The Breath
Driving a broad terrain of musical textures from esoteric protest songs to foot-tapping and floor-thumping dance rhythms, Ríoghnach Connolly & Honeyfeet are an genre-defying ensemble based in Manchester.
Fronted by award-winning vocalist Ríoghnach, her evocative vocal is amply backed by the quintet of Lorien Garth Edwards, bass; Ellis Davies, guitar; John Ellis, keyboards; Biff Roxby, brass; and Phil Howley, drums; collectively known as Honeyfeet. Procuring an eclectic, heady and original sound, the band’s distinctive sonic signature spans from the bountiful to the subtle; touching on everything from big-band swing to Alabama blues-tinged folk.
Equally proficient in headlining festival stages as they are stripping back to sublime obscure jazz on theatre stages, Ríoghnach Connolly & Honeyfeet have finessed their incredible live show on stages for well over a decade. Proving to be electrifying headliners of stages at the likes of as Shambala, Beautiful Days and Moovin, the band have also wowed audiences at major festivals such as Glastonbury, Boomtown, Wilderness, Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling along the way too.
Taking that same chemistry to the recording studio, Honeyfeet released their album ‘Orange Whip’ (on Wah Wah 45s) to rave reviews and a BBC 6 Music Album of the Day placement in 2018. It was followed five years later by 2022’s aptly titled ‘It’s Been A While, Buddy’; an album that the band largely wrote and recorded during the long days of lockdown. A record that finds Honeyfeet pushing their limits further than ever before, their latest offering features a wondrous mix of lush string arrangements and fluid dynamic flow, while spotlighting Ríoghnach’s unique vocals and poetic lyricism greater than ever before. ‘It’s Been A While, Buddy’ is out now and available to stream/purchase in full here: https://honeyfeet.bandcamp.com/album/its-been-a-while-buddy
Reflecting on new album ‘It’s Been A While, Buddy’, John Ellis of Honeyfeet says:
“This album moves things along in just about every way but musically it still has the Honeyfeet DNA. It’s quite a rare thing and difficult, a true collaboration from a band the size and experience of Honeyfeet. You have to dig in. Everyone brought their best stuff.”
Alongside her work fronting Honeyfeet, lead singer Ríoghnach Connolly has also dipped her toes in a whole host of other projects throughout her career. Coming from a long line of singers on both sides of her family, she draws from a breadth of styles both familial to those from folk traditions from across the world. Touching on Sean-nós Caoineamh to West African griot ululation and American deep-south resonance, she creates something singularly her own. Named as the BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year in 2022, Ríoghnach has earned a formidable reputation for her traditional and folk infused solo canon and last year performed at the Albert Hall for Letters Live, and alongside the BBC Philharmonic. She also records and performs with acclaimed Irish Musician Stuart McCallum in the traditional folk group The Breath; with new material from the project confirmed to be appearing later this year.
Stay tuned for much more from Ríoghnach Connolly, Honeyfeet and The Breath throughout 2023…