About Us



Onion Honey may hail from Ontario’s tech capital, but musicians Dave Pike, Esther Wheaton, Leanne Swantko, and Kayleigh LeBlanc play folk music like an old-fashioned string band. The multi-talented lineup all sing lead and harmony, write songs, and pass around banjo, guitar, mandolin, and double bass in performance - and three years of weekly ‘Banjo Church’ livecasts through lockdown has polished their onstage rapport and banter to a high shine.  

The band released Foul Weather Friends in May 2023, their first professional studio album after over a decade of self-produced music. Recorded live off the floor and engineered by Andy Magoffin at his House of Miracles, Roots Music Canada praised the album’s “out-of-this-world harmonies and sweet, tart, string-band sound” and the band’s “catchy-as-hell little ditties that could easily pass for traditional, with a sense of humour that sets them apart from their contemporaries.”

Onion Honey has been heard on radio stations across Canada, showcased at Folk Music Ontario in 2023, and have performed at  a number of festivals including Banjofest in Guelph, Springtide Festival in Uxbridge, Cambridge’s Mill Race Folk Festival, Winterfolk in Toronto, River Valley Bluegrass Festival, and more.


Esther Wheaton (banjo, vocals, washboard) and Dave Pike (banjo, mandolin, guitar, vocals) met in 2011 when their former bands (Banjo & the Bellows and A Yellow Field) shared a billing at The Boathouse - a Kitchener, Ontario institution. Dave insinuated himself into Esther’s band, and when The Bellows dissolved the two started their own old-time project. They recorded and released their first full-length album, Don’t Bother Me None in 2013.

In 2014 Onion Honey acquired two new band members - Michelle Horel (a long-time friend of the band) on banjolele and vocals, and Stuart Cybulskie (an amazing Kijiji find) on double bass. As a quartet they performed at Toronto’s Winterfolk Festival, Cambridge’s Mill Race Folk Festival, Kitchener’s Summer Lights Festival, and many other events as well as establishing their regular gigs at the Grand Trunk Saloon (first Wednesday of every month) and Seven Shores Cafe (second Sunday of every month). This lineup appears on their 2014 EPs Pocket Pair and Home Before the Snow, and 2017 album Raisin’ Heck.

2017 also saw a lineup change as Michelle and Stuart left the band, replaced by Keenan Reimer-Watts on fiddle (kidnapped from a new music ensemble), Leanne Swantko on guitar (another amazing Kijiji find), and Kayleigh LeBlanc on double bass (Esther’s old university roommate). As a quintet they recorded holiday EP Layers, were featured in the Sunparlour Sessions and performed all over Southwestern Ontario from Owen Sound to Niagara Falls, appearing at Jarvis Ontario’s Welcome Home Festival, the Balls Falls Thanksgiving Festival, Waterloo’s Belmont Village Bestival, the Goderich Downtown Shuffle, KW’s Hold the Line Festival, the Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound, and much more.

In early 2019 Keenan left the band for his own artistic pursuits and Onion Honey was joined by a rotating cast of fiddle players and other friends, most frequently Alison Corbett. The band’s third full-length album, Earthly Trials was recorded and released by this lineup in 2019. 

Onion Honey has been heard on radio stations across Canada and both Raisin’ Heck and Earthly Trials charted on national campus radio. They perform regularly around Southwestern Ontario at festivals and fairs, parties and weddings, saloons and cafes, galleries and libraries, and pretty much everywhere else.