Words & Deeds

Black Joe Lewis brings gritty funk to Boise on Tuesday

Joe Lewis, center, first became interested in playing guitar while working at an Austin, Texas, pawn shop.
Joe Lewis, center, first became interested in playing guitar while working at an Austin, Texas, pawn shop.

Hearing Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears for the first time in 2009, I was struck by two things: First, ouch, this band was funk-nasty in a good way — all in-your-face grooves and crawling bass and blaring horns. Second, who was this maniac Black Joe? Dude sounded like James Brown hollering in tongues.

I still can’t understand half the lyrics to “Sugarfoot,” a song that serves as a blueprint for Black Joe Lewis’ primal sound. Eight years later, I still don’t care. It’s easier to sing along when all you have to do is grunt. Over time, Lewis has grown as a musician and expanded the band’s sonic palette. He’s leaned deeper into a psychedelic rock dimension. On the group’s new album, “Backlash,” he’s even soulful (and more understandable). But there’s always a hard-funk, garage-blues freakishness to the Austin, Texas, band. Lewis’ slashing guitar style oozes a distorted, blown-amp looseness — a purposeful slop that fits in with the beer spilled on sticky floors. Critics claim that Lewis’ songs are derivative. That’s always been true. But this band also is a strangely unique, cathartic live experience.

It makes going out on a Tuesday night in Boise hard to resist. If you do make it to Neurolux, consider showing up early enough to witness the name-droppable opening act, Dams of the West. It’s the new project from drummer Chris Tomson of rather famous band Vampire Weekend. His album, “Youngish American” — produced by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, no less — can’t possibly be as useless as Pitchfork made it sound in a recent review. (Can it?)

7 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., Boise. $14. TicketWeb. $16 at the door. Opening: Dams of the West

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