Imagine these performers for a moment: James Brown, Sly Stone, Johnny Burnette, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Bootsy Collins, Iggy Pop, and Dee Dee Ramone. Mix well, and you have Black Joe Lewis. Add a giddy 3-piece horn section, a playful guitarist and bassist whose mottos are surely, “If you aren’t sweat-soaked and near-dead by the end of your performance, you aren’t PLAYING HARD ENOUGH,” and a snappin’ drummer who looks like Buddy Holly’s nerdier brother, and you have The Honeybears. Combined, they reigned supreme on Saturday night’s April 9th sold-out show at the Crocodile, roaring through a funk-punk-blues-and-roll set that had the crowd screaming in sheer rock n’ roll abandon. Like the Black Keyes, Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears take the roots of rock n’ roll plucked from the field, shake off a little dirt, and add their own flavor. No smooth, by-the-book Clapton-esque blues takes for these guys; instead it was AMPS UP and GO CAT GO all the way. The performance factor was off-the-charts, with Lewis and guitarist Zach Ernst climbing off the stage several times into the dancing audience while bassist Bill Stevenson literally climbed the walls of the Croc up to the balcony, playing the whole time. A page from the James Brown/Joe “King” Carrasco stage-review playbook was taken with Ernst wiping the sweaty brow of Lewis with a towel, nods to the Godfather of Soul and Carrasco, fellow Texan.
Crazy, cool, hard-hittin’, and lots of fun, this band entertains like few others. Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears latest album is Scandalous, well worth your time to check out. Next Big Thing? We Will See. Could Well Be. (The entire show was filmed, so if you couldn’t make it to the Croc to rock, perhaps you can see the performance elsewhere soon.)
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears– photo by Marianne Spellman
Opening the show was Tennessee’s Those Darlins, who also showed they knew the power of performance, easily winning over the assembled waiting for Lewis & Co. A perfect pair-up for BJL and the Honeybears, Those Darlins also pay homage to rock’s gritty roots, adding in a little girl-group and surfy/New Wave-y pop to their blend, like Best Coast with lots less reverb and a little country twang. Those Darlins have a Rock Star in Jessi Darlin, who mugs, pouts, swaggers, and struts her way around the stage in a gold sequined bodysuit like a little Tinkerbell Barbarella, fearless and fun. Zach Ernst and Joe Woullard of the Honeybears joined Those Darlins onstage near the end of their set, adding to the excitement. Those Darlins’ latest video is “Be My Bro,” from their album Screws Get Loose.
Those Darlins – photo by Marianne Spellman
Black Joe Lewis
Photos & Review by Marianne Spellman