NEW YORK: Black Joe Lewis' Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! - by J. Blake

Posted on 9/29/2009 by J. Blake

Despite the fact that Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears’ debut CD holds a place in the top ten of Billboard’s Blues Music Charts, TELL ‘EM WHAT YOUR NAME IS! is as influenced by the soul sounds of James Brown or Wilson Pickett as it is by artists like Howlin’ Wolf or Lightnin’ Hopkins. Blues band or soul band, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears is definitely a group with a bright future ahead of them.

Released on the Lost Highway Record label, TELL ‘EM WHAT YOUR NAME IS!, may only have a running time slightly over 30 minutes, but its horn driven sound is big enough to satisfy any music fan. Its 10 tracks (9 of which were penned by the band’s leader) create a soul sound that is at times so authentic, that even the most educated of ears may (depending on the track) easily mistake it for being either vintage Stax or late-60s experimental Chess Records (in the vein of ELECTRIC MUD or THE HOWLIN’ WOLF ALBUM).

Though it is difficult to single out a definite highlight from this fun and energetic major-label debut, Lewis and his band are perhaps at their best when they are channeling the souls of artists past. Sugarfoot is a clear homage to James Brown and The Godfather of Soul’s massive shoes are adequately filled by the seemingly fearless Joe Lewis. Tracks like Big Booty Woman and Master Sold My Baby could easily sound at home on greatest hits collections for artists like Howlin’ Wolf or even Mississippi Fred McDowell and with the ‘R’ rated Get Yo Shit, Lewis and band expertly cross influences by mixing and matching elements that are more than just reminiscent of Wilson Pickett, John Lee Hooker and Otis Redding.

During an age when dance hits like Boom Boom Pow and Paparazzi are taking the world by storm, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears hits the scene with an abundance of genuine soul and an album full of retro-grooves that are as easy to shake your hips to as any Britney Spears single. It is a promising turn of events for an otherwise bleak popular music future. Watch out world! Big things are definitely on the horizon for Mr. Lewis and his Texas band of heavy soul hitters.
Performing Sugarfoot on the Late Late Show:

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Copyright © 2009 - J. Blake. All Rights Reserved

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