Shawnee graduates reunite in rock band Honeyjar

‘We were little baby rock stars,’ says vocalist Kayla Rae

Special to The Sun: Current Honeyjar band members Kayla Rae, Adam Ackerman, Eric Caruso, Dylan Gallimore and former drummer Charlie Singer pose for a promotional photo. Current drummer Richie Straub is not pictured. (PAT NOLAN)

Shawnee graduates Kayla Rae, Adam Ackerman, Dylan Gallimore and Eric Caruso take the phrase, “Let’s get the band back together,” literally.

Now the four of them, plus drummer Richie Straub, make up Honeyjar, a relatively new indie rock band based in the Philadelphia area.

Rae and Ackerman sang in choir together and played in a band called Staff Infection. They all graduated in 2011.

“We were little baby rock stars,” Rae said. “We had no idea that this was going to happen.”

This month, Honeyjar is putting out its first record, “Moonbeam,” with original music inspired by artists like Fleetwood Mac. 

“Nostalgia is a good word to describe it,” Gallimore noted. “And a sense of wonder.”

The album includes the song “Mystic Woman,” the group’s latest release, which has a modernized 1970s sound.

Despite recent success, the band still works by day. Rae joined the band just before beginning a nursing career. During COVID, she spends most of her time working in a hospital, but unwinds by performing vocals for Honeyjar. 

Ackerman owns True Level, a music production studio in Blackwood   where the band was able to record “Moonbeam” and other releases at a low cost.

“I’ll definitely say that the forced hibernation has given birth to a little more creativity,” Caruso explained. “That wouldn’t have happened if all of us were at work, working 9 to 5 non-stop.”

“The interesting thing has been the return to the passion of it all,” Straub added. “When there’s no shows to play, you kind of forget about the business of it all.”

The pandemic has changed how the band, which began in 2018, gets its  music to the world. Honeyjar played its first live show just before COVID  shut the world down. Recently, members used social media and the radio to market themselves. 

“That’s been a totally new frontier,” Ackerman acknowledged. “It is really difficult for bands, especially to grow their audience outside of, like a live music market, because that’s just really where we thrive.”

Honeyjar debuted on radio station WSPN in early December and now looks to build an audience on apps like TikTok. Their music is also available on Apple Music, YouTube and Spotify, where it has nearly 15,000 streams. The band has recorded “stripped-down” versions of its songs as part of “Honeyjar at Home.”

“I think the future for Honeyjar is definitely bright,” Ackerman said. “We’re not entirely sure what that looks like yet. Obviously, every day changes in the pandemic.”

Follow Honeyjar through its website, honeyjartheband.com.