The MusicNerd Q&A With Black Joe Lewis

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Wearing the influences of James Brown and Howlin’ Wolf proudly on their sleeves, Atlantic Canada is about to bear witness to the musical force that is Black Joe Lewis. The band makes their first trip to the Maritimes this weekend with their excellent new record Electric Slave in tow.

Black Joe Lewis performs at Fredericton’s Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival tonight (September 13) before moving onto the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax for a show tomorrow. From there, the band plays Montreal’s La Salla Rosa on Wednesday September 18 before wrapping up their Canadian dates at Toronto’s Lee’s Palace on Thursday September 19. The Black Joe Lewis tour machine doesn’t end in Toronto, however. For a complete rundown of dates, check out the Black Joe Lewis website.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Joe Lewis via phone last week:

While it is a throwback to a different era of music, you guys have a very unique sound. How has being a part of the diverse Austin, Texas music scene influenced that? 

Austin has a lot of different bands. The musicians that play in these bands encompass a lot of different styles but first and foremost, everyone is just trying to attract some level of attention. It can be a hard go but the more unique of a sound that your band has, the better it can be for the band.

Over the last few years, there has seemingly been a resurgence in soul music with yourself, Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley and others. Why do you feel soul music is back in vogue? 

I actually consider us to be more of a blues band than soul but the fact is, everything goes through a resurgence at one point or another. I think it is completely natural for styles to come back around; that includes music too.

Compared to previous records, there seems to be a little more of an edge to the songs on Electric Slave. Was this an intentional move on the band’s part? 

I think where that comes from is that we wanted to make a record that sounded like how the band comes across live. We focused on that much more this time around.

Do you feel you found a good balance with Electric Slave in terms of previous records while still moving the band forward? 

You don’t really know if you’ve struck gold or not until stuff starts happening. Looking back, I feel as though our first few albums was us trying to figure out our sound. I think we finally got it right with Electric Slave.