Joe Lewis first picked up a guitar while working at a pawn shop in Austin, Texas. Drawing influence from famous blues artists like James Brown and Howlin’ Wolf, Lewis quickly immersed himself in the blues/garage soul scene, forming his first band, Black Joe Lewis and the Cool Breeze, in early 2006. After continuously playing shows at a local college bar called the Hole in the Wall, the band was getting nowhere, which left Lewis frustrated and ready to walk away from the music scene for good. Little did he know, his salvation was right around the corner when college student Zach Ernst booked the band to open for Little Richard at the University of Texas 40 Acres Festival.
Lewis formed Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears in 2007. The band hasn’t looked back since, releasing five studio albums and performing at major music festivals including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Coachella. After taking a small break for a few years, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears are back in full swing with their new album “The Difference Between You & Me” released in September of 2018. This album is known as the bands most subversive record to date and explores new territory with a heavy stream of lyrical consciousness.
Joe Lewis might be a man of few words, but his music speaks volumes. We had the opportunity to talk musical food pairings, the inspiration behind the band’s sound, and more with the incredible front man before he and the band kick off their third show on the “Tell Em What Your Name Is!” 10th anniversary tour at Art On The Rocks on Friday.
Birmingham Museum of Art: Everybody wants to know the band’s story. How did you combine musical tastes to develop your sound?
Joe Lewis: I already had a blues band and punk was my thing back then, so we added horns to it and this is what we got.
BMA: Art On The Rocks is about blending the best of Birmingham culture (music, performances, food, and more) with the beautiful Museum environment. In the spirit of fusing music and art, which visual artists might best represent Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears?
JL: I have never been much of an art buff, but I like the old western art like cowboys and all that.
BMA: Birmingham has an incredible food culture. If your music were perfectly paired with a delicious meal and cocktail, what would be on the menu?
JL: Never thought about it, but I would have to go with BBQ since I’m from Texas.
BMA: What are you most looking forward to about playing in Birmingham this summer?
JL: We haven’t been to Birmingham in a while, so I am excited to see how the town receives us.
BMA: What can the audience expect from your show at Art On The Rocks on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage?
JL: Good energy and rhythm.
Tickets for the season finale of Art On The Rocks featuring Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears are on sale now here!