Saturday, March 27, 2010
Closing my eyes I could almost smell the delta: scarfing down a pulled-pork BBQ slider & that great 'slaw Stargazers Theatre has while enjoying libations, jokes and music with Monsieur Tab Benoit and about 500 of my closest friends last night was the most fun thing I did all week.
Tab Benoit is one of those guys that you just want to hang out with: funny, socially conscious about his home state of Louisiana and the devastation from Katrina, and a helluva good blues guitarist. Playing an old beat-up looking Fender Telecaster aged with sweat and Courvoisier - the best paint stripper known to man according to Benoit - the trio of Benoit with bassist Corey Duplechin and drummer Doug Gay ripped it up with their own fais do-do on stage. People were dancing and jumping everywhere else in the house and during the slow bluesy numbers I saw more than one couple making out, so you know the emotion in the Benoit's playing was moving people!
Also one interesting side-bar, George Whitesell - who along with wife Amy run A Music Company Inc who produced the show - sidled up to me and told me to check out the pedals Benoit was using: there weren't any! While almost all guitarists from any music genre use effects pedals to change the tone and sounds of their guitar, Benoit relied on his amp, fat strings, and on-board pickups to express his tonal range which went from fat and bluesy to twangy through roaring progressions and sweet laid back riffs.
Playing songs from several of his albums and requests called out from fans, styles ranged from slow to up-tempo boogie and shuffle numbers and like "Too Many Dirty Dishes", "Power of the Pontchartrain", a zydeco feeling "Stagolee", "Hot Tamale Baby", a soulful version of the bluesy "Nice and Warm", and ending with a totally jamming rendition of "Bayou Boogie".
A couple surprises: Benoit performed a couple solo guitar numbers after intermission before moving to the drums. After playing an excellent drum solo for several minutes that would have been appreciated by any drummer and had the whole audience riveted, Benoit was joined on stage by bassist Corey Duplechin. Together they drove though an amazing syncopated jam between drums and bass that had everybody stopped dead in their tracks. Drummer Doug Gay came out and squeezed around Benoit and took over mid jam while Benoit strolled back to his guitar & strapped it on and led the band into a great version of "Night Train".
Lastly, Benoit is a seriously funny guy: he riffed with the audience on topics from Dan Rather to Autoharps to Alligators throughout the evening with his wry bayou accented deadpan drawl. He could easily have a decent stand-up career if the whole "music thing" doesn't pan out. But I don't think he needs to worry about that happening!