Straight No Chaser

CD Review – Tab Benoit (The blues professor)


Telarc International

There are blues artists who play with so much emotion, you’d swear that their lives have sucked from birth to the present day. Many sound weathered, like they were ridden hard and put away wet. Tab Benoit is the opposite. Oh, he sounds like he’s been through the ringer, but he sings and plays likes he’s teaching the listener a lesson.

The title track opens the album with the gritty blues that he has been known for, but his voice doesn’t have the rasp that others have. It’s like you’re the student, learning how to play the blues from that one odd teacher that can tell you stories for hours and always has a pipe (or in Benoit’s case, a guitar)in his hand.

Benoit also brings some big names with him on his seventh album. Aaron Neville’s son Ivan plays keyboards throughout and Grammy-winning songwriter Anders Osborne, who co-wrote two songs on Keb’ Mo’s 1999 Grammy-winning album Slow Down and wrote Tim McGraw’s #1 country smash “Watch the Wind Blow By,” co-wrote seven of the 11 tracks. The amazing thing about Osborne’s contribution is that he used B.B. King’s famous guitar “Lucille” on the album. I don’t know exactly what it would take to get King to part with “Lucille” for even a day, but he did it.

Benoit learned the blues from some of the greats like Tabby Thomas and Henry Gray, so he has the knowledge of legends, plus he’s a phenomenal guitar player. Think a next generation Albert King. Benoit is only 41 and he’s already released seven albums. At this rate, he will be one of the most prolific blues musicians of all-time. The blues genre would be better for it.

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