Guitarist Tab Benoit, born and bred in the heart of the Louisiana bayou, has been running hot for more than two decades now. A lifelong disciple of the rich, cajun-flavored blues tradition, Benoit humbly refers to himself as "the new kid from the old school."
But while his modesty is genuine, it sometimes obscures the real picture. In truth, Benoit is one of the hottest properties on the contemporary blues scene. His latest Telarc release, Fever for the Bayou, embodies the rich history and multicultural spirit of the Louisiana Delta—the small corner of the world that spawned some of the greatest music ever made.
"Too many music fans today have been hypnotized by today's sanitized modern recordings, where spontaneity is rarely present and where most emotion is faded out," according to the liner notes penned by Art Tipaldi, veteran music journalist and author of Children of the Blues. "Not so here. Tab's emotional connection to the music he dedicates his life to crackles with intensity. Whether he strips his songs to their essential core or adds the colors of another instrument, Tab uses his musical colors wisely."
From the earthy guitar work on the opening song, "Night Train," to the hard-edged "Little Girl Blues," Tab beckons y'all to come on in his Louisiana juke and party. On the Creedence Clearwater-like opening of "Blues So Bad," you'll applaud the dynamic ebb and flow build-up of Benoit's staccato string rips and high-pitched vocal pleas so much that your hands will throb. Grinding blues smokers like "I Smell a Rat" are always the highlights of Benoit's recordings.
But this Benoit set has so much more, including guests like Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, who wrote and sings the New Orleans Mardi Gras chant "Golden Crown," or Cyril Neville, who penned the historical "Blues Is Here To Stay," a powerful reminder of where the music comes from and the universality that makes it a permanent fixture in the cultural landscape.
And of course, there's Tab himself, showing off the signature Elmore James slide riff on James' "I Can't Hold Out," a Chicago blues romp with great interplay between Tab's blistering slide and Jimmy Carpenter's sexy tenor sax. He works up a rolling bayou boil on his Cajun-spiced title track, and offers up some tasty fingerpicking on the stripped-down closing track, "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It."
Each song serves as a way for Tab to honor the traditions of the blues he loves. He's more than just a guitar player on the rise. The deep sensibilities you'll hear set him apart as one of the genuine torchbearers of the blues.
Tab Benoit's got Fever for the Bayou. Throw this disc on and catch some of the heat.