The stories are almost too perfect. Tales of ragged beginnings, blues and soul music that congers up images of hot and dry lounges filled with fedora-adorned patrons (before they became trendy) wearing suspenders and smoking their Lucky Strikes, and a lightening-fast acclaim and rise to stardom... but don't be fooled into thinking this happened during the Dust Bowl. This is happening now.
While working in a pawn shop in down in Austin, Joe Lewis walked over one day and picked up a guitar. He took it home that night and started teaching himself how to play. Sharpening up his chops inside and outside of work hours he decided to hit up some local open mic nights as a solo musician, a period he now laughingly recalls as “horrible…I was usually too drunk or too scared to put on a good show, but people kept asking me to come back.”.
While he eventually put together a band with a solid lineup, Lewis couldn’t capture the mojo he was looking for and was seriously considering retiring from music in his mid-twenties -- until future bandmate, guitarist Zach Ernst entered the picture. Ernst was a student and UT and a part of a student organization that put on concerts and asked Joe Lewis - who was down on music and working at a restaurant shucking oysters - to open up for Little Richard in 2007. Enrst then put together a new group - consisting of Black Joe Lewis, Sugarfoot Watkins, Rooster Andrews, Big Show Varley, Wild Bill Slyder, McKnight the Night Train, and Sleepy Ramirez - and four weeks later Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears played their first gig.
The labels quickly began knocking down their door and after signing with Lost Highway in 2008, they released their first full length album, Tell 'Em What You Think, on March 17, 2009. Filter Magazine named their song "Bitch, I Love You" this year's anthem for Valentines Day. (I also asked Kristi if it could be our first dance at our wedding. Turns out Van Morrison is more appropriate. Probably a good call.)
Ladies and gentlemen, in the vein of James Brown, Lightenin' Hopkins, Joe Tex, here comes the sugarfoot...
"Sugarfoot" by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears