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Honi and DreamGrass

Deaton and Dream are a major amazement and ought to be in the running for discovery of the year. She has a rich, soulful voice with a very broad range — the kind of voice that could bring fresh air to Nashville, if that place had the sense to come calling and not try to bland her into pop diva-dom. Her vocals combine power and expressiveness, and she’s so gifted and experienced that she doesn’t succumb to the temptation to oversing anywhere. While most of the disc is straight bluegrass, some of it the driving kind, her most affecting moments arise, for me, on the slower, country-flavored material, which glows with the subtle passion and color of her voice. Off the evidence of this disc, she could probably make almost any kind of music scintillating.

The set begins with "Loose Talk," an old country hit, done here at a ripping bluegrass clip, followed by some bluesy ’grass on "Better Man." At this point, the verdict is "real promise," and then she launches into the aching original love song "In Your Dreams," and the promise becomes fulfillment. Next, "You’re The One" nails it down — a complex modern bluegrass arrangement with a bowed bass introduction, fine fiddling, lead guitar, and mandolin behind a tour de force vocal, displaying Deaton’s full capacities. When the song, in the middle, slows way down to a gorgeous few lines of pure Deaton soul, you know you’ve come to some place special. The ensuing number, a heartbreaker about divorce, with quiet piano, mandolin, and fiddle and a nice harmony turn by guest Russell Moore, is absolutely captivating. If you’re not a fan after this, your ears or heart are stone.

Lots of fine bluegrass remains, along with marvelous sweet ballads, including "I’m Not Lisa," the Jesse Colter hit, and a gripping finale of "Amazing Grace."

Eight of the songs are Honi Deaton originals, two penned with bass player/husband Jeff Deaton. She writes beautiful romantic material (such as the title song, based on a poignant true story) and some fierce bluegrass. The latter particularly shines on "Sally Flatt," a back-up-in-the-holler saga of multiple murders that could have been imported three hundred years ago with the Scots-Irish.

The band — Kristen Scott Benson, banjo; Chris Davis, mandolin; Dewey Brown, fiddle; Greg Luck, guitar — produces seamless, sparkling, imaginative support. They sound as though they’ve weaved their way around each other for years, though the nucleus of the group was formed relatively recently. Rob Ickes guests delightfully on resonator or slide guitar on three cuts, Wayne Benson plays lovely mandolin throughout, and guitarist Mark Mundy is similarly effective. They’re all just terrific — inventive, tasteful, melodious.

Honi Deaton played with another band, the Grasshoppers, whose music I hadn’t heard until I pulled a few samples off the internet after listening to her here. I’m going to get a hold of their recordings, too, and anything else she’s been connected with. This is serious talent, a star in the making, with a top instrumental cast around her. Don’t miss it! 

- Bluegrass Unlimited

Honi Deaton Bio

 

Honi, pronounced "Honey", is an accomplished bluegrass and country singer. She is also an adept multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who heads the bluegrass supergroup “DreamGrass”.  

Born in Texas, Deaton first began performing with her vocal/piano instructor mother in their group Soul and Country, which performed at churches throughout the Midwest. Eventually, the family moved to Idaho and Deaton began performing in various high-school musicals as well as DJing at a local radio station. Passing on a classical music scholarship to the College of Idaho, Deaton instead decided to pursue her interest in bluegrass music and joined the ensemble The Grasshoppers, touring with them for eight years.


Deaton eventually met and married instrumentalist, Jeff Deaton. The duo relocated to Georgia in 2001 and formed the band “Dream”.  Honi has performed internationally on some of the biggest stages including “The Grand Ole Opry”.  She has also released five commercially produced projects, the latest being on the Grammy Ballot and she also provided the soundtrack for the movie entitled “Stuck in the Past”.  She was featured on the cover of the 2004 issue of Bluegrass Now, a nationally distributed magazine.  Honi has received international success as a singer, songwriter and recording artist, garnering multiple nominations from SPBGMA for “Female Vocalist of the Year” in 2004 & 2005, a nomination from IBMA for “Recorded Event of the Year”, and a 2007 Dove Award Nominee. 

  

Even though she was receiving great success, she decided that her children needed her full attention.  Honi then took a break from touring full time to focus on raising her family. While music has always been a very important part of her life, she felt that her children needed more time from her and that could not be possible while touring.  Honi currently resides in Idaho and continues to perform.  

She again has her eyes set on the national and international music scene.  Now, with a new energy and excitement, Honi is composing new music and is in the studio recording her much anticipated sixth project with her revamped band name, Honi and DreamGrass.   

Katrina Nicolayeff bio

Katrina was born in Nampa, ID and started playing fiddle at the very young age of 16 months.  She entered her first fiddle contest when she was two years old.  Their are many words that describe a talent like Katrina.  Some are “a natural”, “prodigy”, “genius”, “sensation” and “marvel”.  All of the terms definitely apply.


Katrina is an eight time National FiddleChampion. Her mastery of the fiddle is unmatched as displayed ever time she performs.  In September 2014 she won her third world title of “Grand Master Fiddler Champion” held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, TN.  Katrina joins the ranks of Mark O’Connor as a three time winner of the prestigious competition.
 

When not performing and recording for the new Honi and DreamGrass project, Katrina finds herself teaching many fiddle students from her studio.  Katrina also loves spending time with her husband and their two children.

Jeff Deaton bio

Jeff was born and raised just north of Atlanta, GA in a town called Suwanee. He had the unique opportunity to learn from some of the best performers in the industry as he surrounded by many respected musicians as a teen. His father performed professionally starting with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and then went on to start the award winning band, IIIrd Tyme Out. Jeff soon followed in his dad's footsteps and began playing mandolin with the Everett Brothers bluegrass band when he was seventeen years old. Jeff stayed with the group for fourteen years.  It was during this time that the Everett Brothers were inducted into the Georgia Country Music Hall of Fame.


In 1999, Jeff made the switch to playing upright bass with Lou Reid and Carolina and recorded on the project entitled “Blue Heartache”. From there, he moved on to play with Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice, which is when he met Honi at a festival where they were both performing. They were soon married and formed Honi Deaton and Dream together in the summer of 2002.

In addition to the bands mentioned above, Jeff has performed with Bradley Walker and Lost Horizon on the Jerry Lewis Telethon in Hollywood, CA for CBS. He has also performed with IIIrd Tyme Out on select occasions and had also shared the stage with Clint Black and also the country band, Little Texas.

With Honi and DreamGrass, Jeff’s strong mandolin playing helps provide a firm foundation for the band. His harmony singing is collectively responsible for DreamGrass’s trademark trio that wows their audiences.

Josh Brooks bio

Josh was born in the mountains of North Georgia in a town called Blueridge.  Josh's dad is a bluegrass fiddler and Josh grew up with the sounds of mountain bluegrass in his home. Josh started playing the banjo at the young age of four and the rest is history.


Brooks had been dubbed as (“The best kept secret of the mountains”) and is one of the most solid banjo players in bluegrass. His former bands include Blue Ridge Grass and Firehawk. 


Josh joined Honi Deaton & Dream in the fall of 2004 and has been with the band ever since.  With Josh's soaring high tenor vocals, he helps to make up that DreamGrass trademark vocal harmony sound.

Samuel Henry

It was noticed by Samuel's family that he was a very musical young man, easily picking up the guitar, bass, piano and any other stringed instrument that was in front of him.  


Samuel met Honi and Jeff while playing music on the worship team at church and an immediate musical bond was formed.  They noticed that not only was Samuel a great guitarist, but he was also a very talented singer.  He started performing with Honi and DreamGrass in 2018 and has been a crowd favorite at every concert that they do. Although he is the youngest member of DreamGrass at the age of 19, Samuel Henry is definitely a name to remember as his talent is limitless.