Thursday, October 20, 2011

Black Joe Lewis And The Honeybears: Paris France (12-18-09)

Black Joe Lewis picked up his first guitar at the age of twenty while working at a pawn shop in Austin, Texas. Over the next few years he practiced and mastered his instrument. He formed a band called Cool Breeze which consisted of Joe on Guitar and Vocals and a rotating cast of characters backing him up. He secured a weekly gig at "The Hole in The Wall" a local Austin dive bar.

Joe continued his gigs there for a while. But he was beginning to get frustrated with music. The lineup of his band would change almost every week, and he wasn't getting any real attention. In 2007 Joe was considering leaving Austin and giving up on his music career. But fortunately at that time future Honeybears guitarist Zack Ernst was a student and member of University of Texas Music and Entertainment Committee. They were planning their annual 40 Acres Fest. Little Richard was to be the headliner and the Entertainment Committee needed an opener.

Ernst asked Joe to the be the opener. The show was a huge boost for Joe's career and opened him up to a lot of new opportunities. After the Little Richard show Ernst and Joe developed a friendship based around a mutual affinity for blues and soul music particularly the contemporary blues artists on Fat Possum Records like Junior Kimbrough and R.L.Burnside. Soon Ernst became a member of the Cool Breeze.

Despite his recent success Joe still had some trepidations about his future in music. The Cool Breeze wasn't a stable group of dedicated musicains. Joe got offered a gig at an Austin club called The Parish but he was going to turn it down because he didn't have a band. Zach Ernst, who wanted to play the gig, got together a group of his college friends to form a horn section and help round off the rhythm section. This band eventually became The Honeybears. They retained the blues style of Joe's earlier work but incorporated new elements of deep soul, funk, and punk.

In 2008 interview, Zach Ernst was asked to describe the Band's sound. He responded:
Well, Joe came up with “garage soul” and we all liked that. We draw from influences like James Brown and Howlin’ Wolf, and also from ‘70s punk rock, garage rock, the Sonics and the Monks. We’re definitely influenced by all the great, older blues and rock-and-roll artists. Joe plays a really unique style of guitar, like an aggressive lead guitar. Having two loud guitars in the band isn’t really something that any of those soul bands we love so much really ever did. 

This was show recorded December 18th, 2009 for the French television program Live De La Semaine (Live This Week) the same year year Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears released their first full length album Tell em What You're Name Is. This show is comprised of eight tracks off their debut album.

This record begins with a promo featuring a smooth talking frenchmen introducing the band over a recording of "Get Yo' Shit", one of the few songs from their record they don't perform for this show. The first song "Gunpowder" comes off harder with more firepower than it does on their record. It only takes a second to realize that Black Joe is at his best performing live.

Joe introduces "Bitch I Love You" by saying this is our hit. He says this with a hint of Irony. It is one of their more popular songs but it is also caused the band a lot of troubles. Their tongue and chic lyrics have earned them a reputation for misogyny and "Bitch I Love You" has done the most to perpetuate that image. They got kicked off of a tour with Al Green because he found it offensive. They also had a Baraka Obama staff member threaten to pull the plug on them if they played at it a 2008 presidential rally in Austin. Lewis has stated that he likes opening for bands like The New York Dolls because their fans are not as easily offended and he can play whatever he wants “I’m not ashamed of doing ‘Bitch, I love you’ in front of them." he said, "You do that in front of a jam band, and there’s like, feminist chicks who freak out.”

This recording ends the same way the album does on a high note, with "Please Pt. Two". It is an extremely heavy track full of tension and psychotic screaming that would put Iggy on edge. This live mix features a particularly pronounced Saxophone freak-out that is very reminiscent Steve Mackay's sax playing on Fun House.     

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Le Live De La Semaine
Location: Paris France
Date: 12.18.09
Size: 27.4mb
Runtime: 30min
Source: French Television Broadcast

Set List:
00. Sexy French Introduction
01. Gunpowder
02. Sugarfoot.
03. I'm Broke
04. Big Booty Woman
06. Bitch I love You
07. Bobby Bouchet
08. Please Pt. Two

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