This young music trio is only going up. Berklee alumni Holly McGarry (’15), Chris Bloniarz (’15) and current student Benjamin Burns will be bringing their signature contemporary folk sound to this weekend's Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago.
A partnership between Lollapalooza and Berklee gives one standout band the chance to perform on one of the festival’s main stages. After applying through the Berklee Popular Music Institute (BPMI), students are selected to perform at summer music festivals across the continent including Electric Daisy Carnival, Made in America and, of course, Lollapalooza. And out of 400 entries, Honeysuckle was chosen to take Lolla’s Pepsi stage on July 30.
This isn’t the first time the trio has received national recognition — they performed at the Newport Folk Festival in 2015 as a Converse Rubber Tracks Artist and were picked by NPR’s All Songs Considered as a top ten favorite musician of 2016 (so far).
We chatted with singer Holly McGarry who is as humble as she is talented.
How would you describe your sound?
I would describe it as progressive folk. We get a lot of inspiration from traditional American folk and the storytelling process of it all. It’s very vocal-harmony driven—folk with kind of a twist.
How do you think Honeysuckle will fit in with the other performers at Lollapalooza?
I know there are only a couple of acoustic acts on the bill and I think it will be nice to bring some variety. There are a couple bluegrass acts and we aren’t exactly bluegrass either. I’m hoping the crowd will get excited! I know what an eclectic crowd these shows bring and it’s definitely the largest stage we’ve ever played on.
NPR’s All Songs Considered called your work “unpretentious and unabashed,” “technical” and “mesmerizing.” What part of the review meant the most to you as a musician?
The whole thing was really meaningful, especially that one person unraveled our music with so much detail. I like that he pointed out the intricacy of what Ben and Chris do together. They take a lot of time crafting the instrumental parts and the harmonies. It’s nice to know that somebody thinks that we aren’t pretentious or selling out either—that’s really the opposite of the community-driven values of folk music.
Coming off your other biggest show — the Newport Folk Festival last year —how does it feel to keep getting selected for such notable venues?
It’s a huge morale booster and reinforcement. For every band, it’s hard to make it work. This is a nice way for the universe to tell you that you have a shot.
If you go:
Aug. 6 at 6 p.m.
Berklee's Summer in the City Concert Series
25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston