Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears got their start in Austin, Texas in 2007. Joe Lewis was working at a pawn shop in Austin when he picked up a guitar and started performing at various open mic nights around the city. While Lewis was performing shows as part of a local blues trio, Zach Ernst, a member of the University of Texas Music and Entertainment Committee, booked him to open for Little Richard at the school’s annual Forty Acres Fest.
The band has grown substaintially since Lewis got his start. The Honeybears are now eight members strong and includes Ernst, Matt Strmiska, Ian Varley, Bill Stevenson, Jason Frey, Derek Phelps and Joe Woullard. The group opened for Spoon and Okkervil River in 2007, signed to Spoon’s Lost Highway Records in 2008 and played at both Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits the same year. In 2009 Esquire listed Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears as one of the “Ten Bands Set to Break Out” at the SXSW Festival.