Give it his all night after night
Retro Soul With Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears
— Joe Ogara
When asked to describe the music that he and his band plays, Joe Lewis says that he would like to call it soul.
“The thing is these days when you say ‘soul music’ some people think of artists like Amy Winehouse,” says Lewis. “If we had been doing this music back in the 60’s and 70’s, it would definitely be called soul!”
Lewis, the frontman of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears adds that the material on the band’s debut album “Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is” reminds him of the classic soul sound. “I really like the way that the old stuff sounds.”
The musical influences that inspire the members of the band – artists like Otis Redding, The Bar-Kays and James Brown - are quite evident throughout the disc.
“Gunpowder”, the first song on “Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is” has a brassy R&B feel that sets up the listener for the raw, garage soul sound that recalls the way music was before making records went hi-tech.
And while most of the album was recorded live, Lewis admits that recording some of the songs proved to be a bit more demanding.
“It was hard for me to sing and play guitar at the same time on some of the songs when we were in the studio,” Lewis says. “But onstage, it’s easier for me to do them live.
“We wanted to record as much of the album live as possible. Our producer (Jim Eno) wanted it to sound really tight.”
Lewis and his bandmates –Sugarfoot Watkins, Big Show Varley, Wild Bill, Rooster Andrews, Slyder, McKnight the Night Train and Sleepy Ramirez– have been on the road quite a bit over the past few years. And it’s a part of the business that Lewis relishes.
“I really enjoy being on the road,” Lewis admits. “It gets interesting all of us being crowded into a van. But I don’t mind it. When we’re in a motel, I prefer to sleep on the floor. I just have a thing about sharing a bed with a guy (laughs).
“I figure that doing stuff like sleeping on motel room floors make you tougher. It also makes you more appreciative of the luxuries at home. They mean so much more to you after you’ve been out on the road.”
Even with the band’s growing popularity, Lewis still wants to go out and give it his all night after night.
“The way I look at it, I have to step up my game every day. I look at it as a challenge. It’s great that we’ve gotten noticed, but we’ve got to keep those people interested and bring more people in.
“If you don’t keep moving forward, nobody’s gonna care – and I’m gonna make sure people really care about this band.”