Amy Lynn and The Honey Men make return engagement in Milford
It’s no surprise that Amy Lynn Zanetto brings star power to the stage whenever she performs live, fronting her band The Honey Men. With a career in musical theater that includes a 10-year stint in the cast of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the New York City-based vocalist also has an established track record as a bandleader. At its performance at the Milford Arts Council last year, Amy Lynn & The Honey Men “blew the roof off,” according to MAC officials. So by popular demand, the rock and R&B ensemble sporting a three-piece horn section makes a return engagement to the MAC on Feb. 22.
Amy Lynn & The Honey Men have toured throughout the United States and often gig up and down the East Coast, averaging 30 shows last year. Zanetto and her husband, Alex Hamlin, who plays baritone sax and does all the horn arranging, started the band about 10 years ago. The two also perform as a duo and write songs together. Zanetto is originally from Meriden and studied musical theater at the Hart School of Music in West Hartford. The singer took time out to talk about her music and her band with Mike Horyczun.
Mike Horyczun: What first inspired you to pursue a music career?
Amy Lynn Zanetto: I’ve always had music in me. It’s something you can’t ignore or deny. There was no question this was what I was going to do.
MH: Can you talk about your experience in musical theater?
ALZ: I’ve done national tours, and in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, I was a singer and played Mrs. Claus. I’ve also done European tours. In fact, doing the musical “Grease” in Europe, I met my husband Alex Hamlin, and that’s where our musical and romantic adventure began, and it was, of course, the birth of the band. I was playing Rizzo and he was in the pit orchestra, playing sax.
MH: How would you describe Amy Lynn & The Honey Men’s musical direction?
ALZ: I personally describe our sound as ‘Motown-esque’ tunes music sprinkled with jazz-rock with the delivery of Bette Midler.
MH: Does having a horn section help you to open up and expand on your vocal delivery?
ALZ: I would say my voice is like another horn — big and brassy. We all complement each other very well. There are some songs where it is just the four of us, and it really shows off the horn section and my husband Alex’s arrangements. We aren’t a band that has horns, we are a horn-centric band and use them as if they are the other star along with me.
MH: Besides fronting The Honey Men, you perform as a duo with your husband Alex Hamlin. Can you talk about how that collaboration works?
ALZ: It starts off with Alex coming up with a groove on his sax or me coming up with a melody, and then we work from there. We work on lyrics separately then come together to see if we can combine ideas. We also take some cover tunes and make them our own with a different tempo and style.
MH: How do you decide on your repertoire for a Honey Men concert?
ALZ: I choose songs that I love to sing and songs that I think people want to hear from us and that make sense for the group. A typical set list will include originals, covers, and for this show in particular, I’ll add a couple Janis [Joplin] tunes.
MH: You often cover Janis Joplin in concert. What about her music inspires you?
ALZ: The freedom and space within her songs. We have a show that we perform around the country in performing arts centers called “Amy Lynn & The Honey Men celebrates Janis Joplin.” It’s a 90-minute homage to her and her songs.
MH: Do you have any recording plans?
ALZ: We are talking right now about a couple new projects, maybe a Christmas album, perhaps a duo EP. Hopefully, we can get to both soon.
MH: Are you anticipating your upcoming show in Milford?
ALZ: We are truly looking forward to returning to the MAC. It’s an intimate venue, where I feel as if I am part of the audience. The energy in the room is palpable, and it just feels right.
MH: How would you describe the feeling of being on stage, performing in front of a live audience?
ALZ: Being in a perfect dream.