I’ve got to thank Robbie for this one. I think he might have seen Tab at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Tab’s from New Orleans, just another local, as he joked to us on Sunday night. Once again, kudos to Tupelo Music Hall for doing it right one more time.
Tab was in top form – it was like the young Bob Dylan, who would regale his audience with tales between songs. Stories about Buddy Guy (“isn’t it cool that he’s got two names that mean the same thing – hey, buddy, hey, guy”) and courvoisier, crappy fish, and moose horns. We got it all. I don’t suppose we came for the stories, but they went down so well, followed by huge swaths of blues guitar. It was a great night of music.
Three member band – Corey Duplechin on bass, Doug Gay on drums, and Tab Benoit on three different guitars. I think all of them were Fender Stratocasters. Maybe a thinline. But I’m out of my league here. All I know is they produced some great bayou blues all night long. All that was missing was a harp. The first song in was an RnB number, and it seemed like these guys were picking up where James Hunter left off a couple of weeks ago in the same room, taking it a few notches higher.
His guitar reminds me of Albert King and his voice is like Otis Redding. Or at least it was tonight. He even sang “These Arms of Mine,” and it was a bit uncanny really. That was well into the set, though. The table had been well set.
Before tonight, I didn’t know a thing about Tab Benoit except for a one night crash course on YouTube last week. Fat lot of good it did me … when he called out for requests, do you think I could remember the one song I’d had on repeat – it had New Orleans or Louisiana in the title, but I drew a blank, and basically hoped he’d sing it anyways, without any prompts from me. (No such luck.)
He’s got real style on the guitar – very tasty – no gimmicks, just straight away. Born and bred, his songs are set deep in the bayou – I was going to say very earthy, but I guess the term in Cajun country is “swampy.” He was definitely swampy. “Sac au Lait Fishing” and “We Make A Good Gumbo” – how more swampy can you get? He traveled up through the delta and beyond in “The Blues Is Here To Stay,” where he namechecks just about everybody from Elmore James and Bobby Blue Bland to Stevie Ray and T Bone Walker. In the end, it was just straight blues all night long.
One thing is sure, I’ll be timing my visit to New Orleans when Tab Benoit is there.
The song I couldn’t remember? “New Orleans Ladies,” just for the ladies.