It’s not hard to notice that the music industry has gone through a bit of a shift over the last decade. Actually, it’s been quite a journey from the blog-saturated era of the early 2000s, when mp3s and premieres were king, to this new streaming era, where it feels like digital media outlets, labels, and artists themselves are just beginning to get their sea legs. Within the ecosystem’s shift, sometimes it can feel like the sense of community and camaraderie that was so present in those early blog days has been lost.
Streaming platforms are great at predicting what kind of music you might like, and are thankfully beginning to help artists a bit, but they’re still a little faceless and cold when it comes to personal interaction. And that’s where The Wild Honey Pie comes in. As one of the few holdovers from those early blogging days, TWHP has been able to shift and grow into this next phase without losing any of the charm that typified the blog era, particularly in Brooklyn, where the community seemed to grow the strongest.
The blog’s founder Eric Weiner learned to roll with the punches as the industry shifted, gearing up his site to function more as a tastemaking collective for creators across the board, drawing in animators, artists, writers and more, which in turn gave the site a creative agency feel. They now regularly work with brands to host events and create content, as well as making videos for artists and hosting sessions, all which still lean toward the indie, bloggy bent.
And though their crowning event for so far may be an annual summer festival, Welcome Campers, it’s their Dinner Party series that has quietly grown legs in cities around the world, including making its way to Los Angeles, where the Highland Park events have been selling out at a rapid pace. After being invited to attend an event last fall, I experienced the party’s hospitality firsthand, even meeting a then-stranger who has now become a friend I regularly go to shows and hang out with.
In a sprawling commuter city like LA, the dinner set up and gathering of like-minded people offers a chance to build relationships in a way that few events here do. Combining a low price point of $50 for a three-course prix fixe menu, complimentary beer or alcoholic Kombucha, and a short, intimate show by a hand-picked artist once the meal is over, the Dinner Party series is the perfect mix of hospitality and entertainment.
In advance of their next LA event, which is happening this Monday, April 8 at Checker Hall, and features the incredible folk breakout Bedouine (tickets here), I spoke with the blog’s founder to get a sense of just how these events came about, and where they’re going in the future.
First of all, just to talk about the origins of The Wild Honey Pie itself, for my readers because they might not be super familiar with it. Why don’t you tell me the story of the publication and how it’s evolved over the years?
The Wild Honey Pie is an organization founded in 2009 as a music blog. I had a food blog before, so I just easily transitioned to the music once I got an internship at MTV in London, and since then we’ve really evolved as the music industry has shifted, since the early 2010s. With the decline of the music blog, with the decline of the mp3, and with the rise of streaming, now we look at ourselves as a music discovery collective coming together to curate and support the music that we love. We do that by curating music and producing experiential events, original video content, and playlists.
Specifically, as far as the dinner parties go, that’s something that we launched in 2017. I was already doing dinner parties in my own apartment and wanted to find a way to connect it to The Wild Honey Pie. So I reached out to a few local businesses, including a local bookstore, Archestratus, that has a cafe in the back. It’s a really amazing shop with a great owner who lives in the neighborhood [Greenpoint], so she’s my neighbor. We launched this series there, paring up a three-course, prix fixe menu, giving away some beer, and having a band play — just try it once, and we’ll see how it goes. Then, we ended up doing them every month.
After starting in New York, what drew you to move to Los Angeles next?
New York and LA are the two biggest markets for what we do in the US, and we have dozens of folks involved in the collective out in LA. We already produce Buzzsessions (the name for Wild Honey Pie’s live sessions) out there, so it naturally was the first extension of what we were doing in New York. Plus, I’ve been going to LA since I was born and very familiar with the city. From there we were just deciding what neighborhood to do, and we really found a home in Highland Park with Checker Hall. It’s a really awesome spot, in the same building as The Lodge Room, which is a great music venue, too.