Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Live Review: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

Dante's, Portland
Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Question: What is the best part about being the opening act for an exotic dance show?

I've seen some pretty entertaining shows so far this year, and this one is up there with the best. Mr. Joe (or is it Mr. Lewis?) is a surprisingly fantastic guitar player, something I didn't catch listening to their albums. The creature left hand made a couple appearances proving this point (the“creature”being when the hand appears to be moving on its own up and down the neck of the guitar with the fingers moving freakishly fast). His guitar's sound wasn't a 10 on the crispness scale, but whose is really?

The three piece horn section (tenor sax, baritone sax, trumpet) were the most energetic horn section I've seen live, dancing and swaying in unison most of the set. The bass player and rhythm guitar player ran around stage (and in the crowd) occasionally running into each other, and provided howling vocals (and a duet). The drummer had an interesting schtick in which he would let his glasses slide down his nose until they were hanging near his mouth, before shaking them off his head, or sliding them back up to the starting position. It’s simple, but it's unique, and I dig unique. When I walked by their performance at Coachella last week, the image being displayed on the monitor was just that, the drummer with his glasses near his mouth. I got a chuckle out of that. They had a giant crowd at Coachella for their time slot, by the way. It's nearly impossible to stumble upon this band at a festival, and not stick around.

Black Joe Lewis is black by the way. Shocking, I know. I couldn't let it slide, I had to joke to my friends in between songs, "I didn't realize he is black?" It was good for a couple laughs, and a couple strange looks from people who overheard the comment. You have my permission to use that line when you see him live. Black Joe being the main vocalist, has some pretty hilarious soulful songs. He played the harmonica on a couple tracks, and included a guitar solo played with his teeth. He also jumped in the crowd to play a solo. Crowds love that.

As great of a performance as it was, I’m going out on a limb and saying this particular show was one of their most memorable, and they would probably agree. First, they were playing part of the Soul'd Out Musical Festival, and were able to invite other jazz musicians playing the festival on stage for a couple songs. Second, (here is the answer to the Question asked in the intro), strippers on stage! I’ve never been to the Fire Dancers show at Dante’s, so I can’t confirm the two ladies getting down during two of the final songs are indeed strippers, or if they were merely scantily dressed dancers. Full disclosure, I have seen my share of strippers, Portland being the strip capital of the United States, and I’m just saying these two were the cream of the crop. My out of town friends like to visit the strip clubs, "when in Rome," you know? Don't judge me. Third, ah, who cares, there were strippers on stage!

The dynamic of the crowd was also entertaining. Many attending used their Soul’d Out festival pass. This festival utilized some of the classiest venues in town, including the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (where the symphony plays), and Jimmy Mak’s (swanky jazz bar). Based on how several of the attendees were dressed, I’m guessing they had never been to Dante’s. I’m hoping they thought they were in for another evening at a venue similar to the two previously mentioned, when in fact, Dante’s is a dive bar. It’s dirty, it smells bad, and is notorious for having the worst bathrooms in town. Picturing a 40-something woman with a $150 haircut, wearing expensive perfume, dressed in professional attire, entering Dante's bathroom just makes me laugh. Throw in some bad Chinese food, and I'm LMFAO. Yes, I occasionally get satisfaction in other’s misery. I’ve established this before.

Seeing these upper class ladies leaving the venue at the conclusion of the show with their noses covered, and a look of desperation to get out was joyous, but not as joyous as the expression on their husband’s faces having just witnessed strippers! I didn't even mention the joint being passed between Black Joe and the trumpet player. Illegal drugs, dirty bathrooms, cheap beer, gorgeous strippers, stinky patrons, and great music, just another night at Dante’s.

In conclusion, what I really want you to know about this band is that there were strippers on stage! Wait, that wasn’t what I was trying to say, the point of this review is that the strippers put on one hell of show, and you should check them out. Crap, sorry for the typo, what I meant was Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears put on one hell of a show, and you should check them out. For real.


  1. Awesome review as usual. I gave up on waiting for you to complete your 2010 lists. Typical Portland slacker!

  2. Thanks. And the 2010 review will be finished. At this point, it has lost its end of year relevance, so it doesn't really matter if I finish it this week or this summer. I have albums 31-40 and shows 6-10 almost finished, so you might see those soon. You will see a gigantic book I'm writing about Coachella, I promise that. It will be four (or five) parts, and shouldn't take more than two weeks to finish.

    Once Sasquatch is done with, I'll have a lot more time to commit to this blog.