Bridge City-native Mandy Todd Buchanan, at center, returns home this week with her acoustic music trio, hONEyhoUSe, which also features her friends Yvonne Perea, at left, and Hillary Smith, at right. The trio will perform at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, at Sunset Grove Country Club in Orange. Tickets are $15 in advance and at the door. Courtesy Photo

BC native returns home for music event

By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

A love of life, music and travel has served one woman well since leaving her hometown, and this week she returns home to share those same joys with her friends and family.

Mandy Todd Buchanan is a native of Bridge City, who currently resides in Lubbock, Texas. She is part of an all-female acoustic trio known as hONEyhoUSe, which is scheduled to perform at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 23, at Sunset Grove Country Club, 2900 W. Sunset Drive in Orange. Tickets are $15 in advance and can be purchased online at www.eventbrite.com. Tickets will also be available at the door.

The trio, which is comprised of Hillary Smith, vocals; Yvonne Perea, vocals and acoustic guitar; and Buchanan on vocals, combines the talents of three very diverse and seasoned artists into one unexpected powerhouse force which performs all original music influenced by blues, soul, folk and Americana.

“I’m so thrilled,” Buchanan said in a telephone interview in advance of Thursday’s concert. “I’m excited for the girls in the group to be able to meet my friends and family back home. That’s very important to me. I’m over the moon about this.”

The trio has rarely been so close to Orange County with past performances only reaching as close as Pearland, Alvin and one showcase at the renowned Mucky Duck in Houston.

“I have a lot of family and friends who have supported hONEyhoUSe but have never seen us perform,” she continued. “But a few have been able to come to the Houston-area to see us. Being able to bring the group back home something I have wanted to do for a long time.”

Buchanan graduated from Bridge City High School in 1994 and then relocated to Portales, New Mexico, where she attended East New Mexico University and earned her degree.

Her love of New Mexico developed during her childhood. Both of Buchanan’s parents were educators with the Bridge City Independent School District. Her mother, Shirley Todd, taught at Sims Elementary, while her father taught history at Hatton Elementary.

It was her father’s passion for history and the family’s love of travel which contributed to her love of New Mexico.

“We always traveled in the summer, when I was a child, because we were all out of school,” she explained. “We would go to these different historical sites every year and my dad would take lots of photos. He would turn those photos into slides and use them for slide shows for his students. I fell in love with New Mexico and wanted to get there as soon as possible.”

After completing college, Buchanan relocated to Red River, New Mexico, where she eventually met her husband and lived for 15 years. It’s also where her music career began.

“I would sing at a little venue there every once in a while, and that’s how I ended up meeting Yvonne (Perea),” Buchanan said. “And we hit it off fabulously.”

As well as things were going for the new found friends and artists, the trio would not be formed until another three years had passed and a suggestion had been made.

“Hillary (Smith) would come in every once in a while with her band, and the owner of the venue is the one who suggested we maybe get together,” Buchanan added. “He kind of saw the potential in all of us, so we got together and worked on a 45-minute set and it went so well. Within a few months we were working on a our first CD. It’s been a whirlwind ever since.”

The trio has won numerous awards over the past several years from the New Mexico Music Awards, including “Best of the Year” in 2012, “Best Song” and “Norman Petty Producer’s Award” in 2013, “Best Song in Americana” and “Best Mastering Engineer” in 2015.

In a 2013 article in Rolling Stone magazine, hONEyhoUSe was recognized as one of the “Bands to Watch from Santa Fe.”

Buchanan and her husband moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., but hONEyhoUSe remained intact and continued to perform whenever possible. When her husband obtained a new job in Lubbock two years ago, the Buchanan family relocated and the trio continued to amaze audiences and make new music.

“God has a purpose for us in this group, and as women,” Buchanan said. “We are all in different places geographically and in our lives, but that’s OK. It’s works for us.”

For the women in hONEyhoUSe, the trio of artists is more than just an outlet for music.

“There is a reason we spell the name of the group the way we do,” she explained. “We are very much about our sisterhood. It is important for us to be united. Our relationships are solid and we are all very close. It comes before anything.”

Although the most recent hONEyhoUSe studio recording is the 13-song epic known as “Sweep,” which was released in July of 2014 and features the popular single, “Autumn,” Buchanan said the trio is hard at work on its next effort.

“We are working on our fourth album now,” Buchanan added. “It will be a live album and we will hopefully have it finished soon.”

Thursday’s performance will be much more than just performance by the three singer-songwriters. It will be a chance for family and friends to see into the hearts of the three friends as they recount their experiences and stories related to their music.

“We like to give our audiences a little insight into what our inspiration or meaning was for a song,” she said. “People really relate to that and they enjoy hearing the experience behind it.

“Sharing your music definitely like sharing a part of yourself,” she added. “There are so many common threads among people, and they respond to that. It’s really something special.”

For more information on this acoustic trio and to hear music and see videos, visit honeyhouse.me on the internet.