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Monday, 13 February 2012 11:16

'Maybe Ike Turner came down inside of the record' An interview with Black Joe Lewis

'Maybe Ike Turner came down inside of the record' An interview with Black Joe Lewis Nate Burrell
Written by Francisco Fisher
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Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears play upbeat blues injected with influences that include soul, punk and rock 'n' roll. Hailing from Austin (though now living in Montreal), Joe Lewis' dynamic vocals and heavy guitar licks provide the lead for a turbo-charged ensemble of horns and percussion.

The group's 2011 release, "Scandalous" (produced by Spoon drummer Jim Eno), is a fast ride down a dusty road with some surprises along the way. The track "Mustang Ranch," for example, tells a true story of the band's encounter with a seedy pit stop en route from Salt Lake City to San Francisco. The groove will get you on your feet, and the lyrics will forever change the way you think of a "glazed ham."

Ahead of the band's upcoming, KDHX-welcomed concert at Off Broadway on February 15, I chatted with Lewis about the Austin music scene, Ike Turner's ghost and an upcoming tour with Flogging Molly.

Francisco Fisher: You received a lot of attention from your [2009] performance at South By Southwest. What other opportunities did you encounter as a musician from Austin?

Black Joe Lewis: Just getting to rub shoulders with a lot of good musicians and awesome bands. I've got good friends in Austin. It's my hometown.

Is it convenient to be from a place with such a vibrant music scene?

Oh yeah, it is. But it's a town where you have to really try and do something to get noticed, because there's so much other good stuff going on every night. So you have to try to be original.

You've rejected the label of "soul revival." Many musicians share your influences, but what really sets you apart from artists like Sharon Jones?

They play soul better than us. You'll just have to listen to the records back-to-back and see what you can hear for yourself. It's just a matter of opinion.

You've got an upcoming show in St. Louis. Do you have any influences that came out of St. Louis? To tell the truth, I don't know. Who's all from St. Louis? There's a lot of cool stuff going on and I like the city in general. It's got an old vibe and I like all the old buildings.

Chuck Berry's from here. Ike and Tina Turner met in St. Louis.

Yeah, all those acts. Ike Turner died when we went in to the studio to record our first album. As we were in the studio, we learned that he passed away. We thought it was a sign or something.

A sign of what?

Maybe Ike Turner came down inside of the record or something like that.

How much of the newest album "Scandalous" are you going to incorporate into the show?

We do a different set list every night, so it just depends how we're feeling that night. We might play some songs off the new record, an old one, some covers and new stuff we've been working on. Just to have something different to play, something new. We get tired of playing the same stuff every night, so we like to mix it up. Some bands like to use the same set list for an entire tour. I wouldn't be able to do that. It would drive me nuts.

After St. Louis, you're going to tour with Flogging Molly. How did your two groups get together? Is it going to be a cohesive pairing?

It'll be interesting. We played with them in Chicago two or three years ago; we opened up for them. It should be pretty rowdy when people get down on it. Either way, it won’t be a boring tour.

KDHX welcomes Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears to Off Broadway on February 15.

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