There was a time when R&B meant something other than trite warbling over glorified Casio rhythm presets. Once upon a time performers like Ray Charles and Al Green moved feet and hips and hearts. They made music with soul.
The music was infectious, and it freed a generation of youth from the shackles of their parents' outdated ideas about race, class, and culture.
Brown v. Board of Education may have integrated schools, but Stax Records really broke down the barriers of racial segregation in the hearts and minds of America.
Soul music seemed poised to make a brief comeback after the release of films like The Blues Brothers and The Commitments. As great as those films are, they were really just bringing attention back to standard soul classics. They were all nostalgia, no renewal.
Enter Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, a group of musicians from Austin, Texas that are bringing soul back - and in force. Their debut record, Tell Em What Your Name Is! was released by Universal Music Group's Lost Highway label in March. I may be late to the show, but thank God I found a ticket. This music is HOT.
If you're like me and you're just hearing of these guys, check out the video for their song Sugarfoot. This already has me planning the playlist for a soul disco in the basement.
In their infinite wisdom, Universal Music Group has disabled embedding, so I can't actually show you the promotional video they paid a lot of money to produce. I can only provide you a link to click through to watch it somewhere else.
Take the extra step, though. It's worth it.