Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears' gutbucket soul and high-energy R&B sounds like it's been ripped straight out of a '50s Third Ward juke joint, but they're a thoroughly modern band. Since bursting onto the Austin music scene in 2007, Lewis and the Honeybears have wasted no time in making a national name for themselves, an attitude mirrored in the group's sweaty, almost seizure-inducing stage set (we dare you not to dance). The band has toured with Spoon, played last year's Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits festivals and will soon open a string of dates (including The Woodlands) on the Dave Matthews Band's summer tour, while their 2009 LP Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! (Lost Highway) made too many year-end best-of lists to count (including ours). Although keyboardist and Houston native Ian Varley amicably left the Honeybears after their show-stopping revue at last month's Austin Music Awards — where their own "Sugarfoot" and "I'm Drunk" more than held their own against Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Further on Up the Road" and Ivory Joe Hunter's "Since I Met You Baby" — Black Joe still has a connection or two to the Bayou City. He wore a Little Joe Washington T-shirt at one of the Honeybears' SXSW 2009 shows, and besides Washington's obvious influence on his manic guitar style, Lewis can croon as sweetly as Baytown native Joe Tex. When he's not grunting and shouting like the second coming of James Brown, that is.
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