Black Joe Lewis Kick Off Their “Texas Takeover” at Waterloo Records
Austin’s Kings of Punk, Funk, and Soul Celebrate the Release of their new CD, “Electric Slave.”
Since he first picked up a guitar in an Austin pawnshop less than a decade ago, Joe Lewis and his band have come a very long way. In the six years they have been together, they have grown from a local band into national indie darlings. The six-man band has played almost every major music festival in the country, from Austin City Limits Music Festival to Coachella, and their numerous television appearances include a spot on The Late Show with David Letterman, where quite a few of our local musicians are receiving nationwide attention.
Joe Lewis is a true product of the Austin music scene, so it was only fitting that his band took the stage at the iconic Waterloo Records for a blistering 30-minute set last Sunday as part of their “Texas Takeover” and nationwide tour supporting their third CD, “Electric Slave.”
Good record stores are rare these days, and record stores that feature a series of exceptional shows are even rarer. Playing to a packed room, Black Joe Lewis didn’t let the small stage hold them back from unleashing the brash, soulful, unbridled music that has become their trademark.
As the lead singer and guitar player, Joe Lewis has often been compared to one of his main influences, James Brown, but his vocals often resemble the howls and screams of Little Richard in his prime. Bassist Bill Stevenson is also a joy to watch live as he whips his long hair onstage and adds a heavy bottomed bass to the band’s deep funk sound, especially on songs like “Skullduggin.”
The horn section is also exceptional, with Joe Woullard wailing on saxophone and Derek Phelps on trumpet. Despite these obvious blues roots, the band often displays a raw punk sound too, reminiscent of acts like Madness.
The set at Waterloo gave fans a taste of what is perhaps Black Joe Lewis’s most eclectic release yet. “Electric Slave,” which is a reference to modern society’s dependence of technology, is not just another blues record.
The tracks are often raucous and gritty, resembling the early sounds of The Clash mixed with the soul of Howlin’ Wolf. This is blues, soul and punk with a shot of adrenaline.
Songs like “Come to My Party,” have a straight up classic 70s soul sound that make you want to put down your iPhone and get up and dance. Just as easily, Black Joe Lewis slides into heavy rock with heavy guitar riffs that resemble Ritchie Blackmore’s years with Deep Purple, especially on the track “My Blood Ain’t Runnin’ Right.”
With his red Telecaster and boundless energy, Joe Lewis is a fresh showman from a bygone era. With a four-month long tour of the U.S., including stops in Nashville, Seattle, Portland, and New York and an impressive new video for “Come to My Party,” Black Joe Lewis may soon be known as the hardest working band in show business.
They are certainly one of the most unique and most exciting Austin bands to grace the national scene in a very long time.
Photos by William Ruben Helms