The first time I heard of Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears was when a friend of mine put on “Booty City.” I listened for a minute and learned two things. 1) With the exception of two lines, the entire song is made up of Lewis singing the hook “Right on everybody, won’t you take me to Booty City.” 2) It was catchy and I liked it. I decided I could overlook the repetitiveness of the song, though I can’t listen to it on repeat, and I added a few of his hits to my playlist of the moment on Spotify.
The group’s sound is a contemporary take on blues, soul and funk. A Texas native, Lewis draws inspiration from the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Wilson Pickett and James Brown. Their most recent album, Backlash, returns to their contemporary take on soul and “punked-up” R&B. Lewis joined forces with Grammy Award-winning producer Stuart Sikes (The White Stripes, Cat Power, Modest Mouse) to record the album, revisited deep-seated influences. “I wanted to go for more of a soul/blues/rock-and-roll sound compared to the last one—the kind of stuff I was doing back in the day, but with the songwriting a little more evolved,” Lewis says.
Lewis says the album is about the ugly reality of “dealing with the backlash from the things you’ve done in the past.” The album is joyful, chaotic and full of Lewis’ high-energy screams. Given his track record and previous show at The Blue Note, it’s safe to say that his performance is sure to follow in the same path.