ACL Music Fest Sunday Interviews

One bad mother – shut your mouth

ACL Music Fest Sunday Interviews

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears

12:30pm, AMD stage

No one from Central Texas, and in this case, Austin, has stepped up the way Black Joe Lewis has to claim the soul crown left by the likes of Joe Tex in the early 1980s. With his snazzily dressed band the Honeybears and a sizzling 2009 Lost Highway debut, Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!, Lewis revives the best of Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, and other classic soul men. He's recasting the blues with a vocal dynamic, not the guitar.

"We're raw," he wails by phone from northern California, where he and the Honeybears are headed to Seattle for the Bumbershoot Festival, then appearing on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson in Los Angeles. "Blues are too clean these days, and in Austin, I think people tend to copy each other. When Stevie came out, he was so badass. He made Austin blues what it is now. But you got to have your own little thing, and mine is the way we do it."

Not that Lewis can't hold his own across six strings. It's just that his masterful delivery, bad-boy swagger, and gritty vocals make him a true player. A Round Rock native, Lewis discovered guitar while working in a pawn shop. Following a circuitous path performing with Walter Daniels and his own band Cool Breeze, he now feels secure in his place: making blues a little dirtier.

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