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Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears Love You!!!!

The New Now

Every once in a great while a song comes along that seems like the perfect anthem for a holiday. The celebration I write of is not in honor of our great Presidents, silly, but Valentine's Day, a time when lovers share their love with one another and the brokenhearted wallow in self-pity and depression. The song I write of is not only good for Valentine's Day, but for your everyday listening pleasure 365 days a year. It's called "Bitch, I Love You," by a wonderful combo called Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.

 

Lost Highway, the label that is home to such heartbreakers as Ryan Adams, Morrissey, and Lucinda Williams, is promoting Lewis and company by offering a handy-dandy little "B****, I Love You e-card you can send to you lovers, friends and/or enemies. It's dang cute, but I wouldn't waste my time writing about it if there wasn't something worthy in the grooves.

On "Bitch, I Love You," Lewis sounds as if he's James Brown reincarnated. I know that's physically impossible considering the fact that the Godfather Of Soul shuffled off this mortal coil just over two years ago on Christmas day, and Lewis does not look, nor sound like a toddler, unless he has some kind of weird-ass Benjamin Button reverse-aging thing going on. Still, compare Lewis's "Bitch, I Love You" to Soul Brother #1's "It's A Man's Man's Man's World."

Bitch, I Love You

 

It's A Man's Man's Man's World

 

When a new artist sounds like a legend, it's easy to dismiss the new kid on the block as a mere revivalist with nothing new to offer. Yet I think there's more going on here with Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, whose self-titled EP was released digitally and on a big 10-inch vinyl record in late January.

Lewis grew up in the small town Round Rock, Texas but was more interested in sports than music, at least until he found himself working in a pawn shop of his new home town of Austin, Texas. "My dad and my uncles listened to soul and blues when I was a kid, but I never really took much notice," Lewis once said. "When I was about 19 or 20, I was working in this pawn shop and all these guys would bring in guitars. One day, I started playing around with one and took it home and started teaching myself how to play."

Eventually, he gravitated to open-mic nights at Austin's burgeoning club scene, but Lewis--by his own admission--was "horrible...I was usually too drunk or too scared to put on a good show, but people kept asking me to come back."

He adopted the name Black Joe Lewis as a joke of sorts, because most of the cats playing the blues in the Austin clubs were white boys. Frustrated with his progress on the music front, Lewis was considering packing it in until future Honeybears guitarist Zach Ernst landed Lewis a gig opening for Little Richard at the University of Texas. The show was a success, but more importantly, Lewis found a new musical soul mate in Ernst, who helped enlist the eight-member strong Honeybears to serve as Lewis's backing band.

In 2007, Lewis released a self-titled effort on the indie Weary Records. It features a few of the same tracks that are on the EP, but the newer release better showcases the band's live sound, thanks to the production by Spoon drummer Jim Eno. Lewis & The Honeybears have opened for Spoon and Okkervil River and played Lollapalooza, where, the band likes to joke, Radiohead opened for them.

Tell 'Em What Your Name Is, the band's full-length debut on Lost Highway, is due on March 17. In the meantime, check out these clips of the band performing live. You can access the band's Valentine's Day e-card here. And remember, bitch, I love you.

 

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