Live at Bumbershoot 2016, Day 2: Black Joe Lewis at KEXP

Bumbershoot, Live Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra
photos by Brittany Feenstra (view set)

KEXP begins Day 2 of Bumbershoot in-studios at the new home with Black Joe Lewis and his band the Honeybears. The Austin blues singer is three years deep into a cathartic rampage. With the release of Electric Slave in 2013, Lewis shed all extra weight from his warpath. The band name is slimmer, the arrangements are tighter, and the sound has shed excess funkadelic jam-banding in favor of sizzling blues rock goodness. Even extended numbers like the 7 minute jammer “Vampire” seem to breeze by as Lewis croons you near to death. It’s a mixture that showcases Joe Lewis’s skill as a singer, frontman, and songwriter better than anything he’s put forth before. Now, the band is looking ahead towards new album Backlash, hopefully out in February, and the Honeybears era and the Electric Slave sound seem to be coming together. We got to hear a few new numbers here in the studio, but Bumbershoot attendees can get excited about whatever additional magic he's going to be breaking out at the mural stage this evening.

Lewis kicked things off with "PTP", a new song from the forthcoming record. "PTP" immediately set the mood, blending the blistering blues of Electric Slave with the lush arrangements of Lewis's earlier records. Here in the new studio, Lewis's seven-man band can spread out, and really groove with each number - as Morgan had acknowledged on air, a lot easier to fit everyone in this time around than it was in the old space in November 2013. After "PTP", Lewis returned to the days of Scandalous for two hits of funk goodness on "I'm Gonna Leave You" and "You Been Lying". Watching the Honeybears play these tunes together is to see a band move and breathe effortlessly. Each number is as organic as it is driving. Finally, Lewis closed the session out with Electric Slave burner "Young Girls", where the only thing giving competition to Lewis's scorching guitar was the copious tambourine. All in all, Black Joe Lewis kicked off the day in monumental style. With more in-studios to come and a great day out at Bumbershoot to enjoy, Lewis's blues and funk sound set the mood with ease.

Stay tuned on the blog all weekend as we bring you more coverage from Bumbershoot, and join us today at 2:30pm for a session with Australian psych band Jagwar Ma.

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