Band: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

Members: Joe Lewis; Zach Ernst; Bill Stevenson; Matt Strmiska, aka Sugarfoot; Ian Varley; Jason Frey; Derek Phelps and Joe Woullard

Who we talked to: Lewis, 29

Where are you calling from? Austin, Texas

Did you think you were going to be a musician when you were growing up? I didn't plan on it. I kind of learned how to play when I was, like, 21 or so. I wanted to be a garbage man because they got to hang off the back of trucks. That was cool.

How did you get into music? (While) hanging out with friends, I just learned how to play guitar. Everybody has a band in Austin. I got into it and saw you could make money. I started to play music just to get out of my day jobs and here I am. I worked at Subway, a pawn shop . . . a factory . . . a gas station (and in) construction. I did all kinds of (stuff).

What are your live shows like? It depends on where you're at. Some places people don't like (the music), some places they do. Some crowds are louder, some are quieter. At first, on the East Coast, like in New York City, people would kind of watch. Now it seems that more people are into the shows. I think now everybody knows what they're coming (to our shows) for.

Does the crowd reaction matter to you? Yes, definitely. The crowd can rub you wrong, you know, but you can't let it bug you. Sometimes, they stand there and they look like they don't know what's going on. You've got to make it fun for yourself.

Do you think people from younger generations aren't used to hearing blues and soul? Yeah. I can kind of listen to whatever I want and decide whether or not I like it. If I hear something I've never heard before and it sounds cool, I'll listen to it. I try to play to all kinds of different crowds of people because I want to give everyone a chance to like it or not like it. You can't just play to certain crowds. You'd sell yourself short.

Did you grow up listening to soul? I kind of found it later in life . . . after high school when I first moved out (on my own). I started playing guitar around then. I wanted to start a band to try it out. (Soul) was just something I liked to listen to. Everything I listen to is kind of retro. I like the older-style of music better. I think now everybody kind of sounds alike, and there is too much electronic (stuff) going on in music.

Talk about making your debut album. That was my first time in the studio and first record. We're actually in there right now . . . working on our second one. (Our producer Jim Eno from Spoon) is great. He's really patient, and he's really good at what he does. We're actually working with him again right now. He has a really nice studio and knows what he's doing, so it was a good experience.

How far are you along on your second album? We've got, like, two more songs to track. I'd say early next year it would be out. I think this record is going to be a lot better. It's a little bit more mature sounding. Everyone's better at what they do. I think that being on the road has made the band tighter and practice makes perfect.

When you guys are on the road, what do you like to do in your down time? We like going to those roadside attractions. Those are always fun. The best one we went to was The Mystery Spot outside Santa Cruz, Calif. It's supposed to have a gravitational pull and . . . everything is kind of crooked on this hill. It's hard to explain. You have to go see it for yourself. You don't really find too many of those places on the East Coast. Out West, you find a lot.

Any other big gigs coming up for you this summer? I'm definitely looking forward to (The Montreal Jazz Festival) because I know how many bands come in for that. I've never been there. I haven't seen the lineup yet, but I bet it's going to be a pretty big bill. We have a tour with Dave Matthews Band.

Any bands you like or who you think are up-and-coming? We're big fans of The Sword. I think they're bigger than us, but that's probably my favorite band from Austin. There's a gospel group called The Relatives out of Dallas that's really great, too.


If you go

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears takes the stage today at the Capitol Theatre, 50 N. George St. in York. Hacienda opens the CapLive show. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets cost $18 at the door. For details, visit

On the Web

For details about Black Joe Lewis, visit

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