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Photo by Jerry Moran

Concert Preview: Tab Benoit

Blues jazz guitarist and vocalist Tab Benoit will perform Sept. 6 at the Blue Note. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

By Sarah Leituala | Aug. 23, 2012

Tags: Music

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Tab Benoit’s latest album, Legacy: The Best of Tab Benoit, was released in April. Legacy has a blend of some of his best pieces of work from previous albums.

Legacy features 14 of his best tracks, including "Shelter Me," "Muddy Bottom Blues" and "Whiskey Store." "Shelter Me" shows an influence of nature as Benoit sings out, “The wind will blow, the rain can pour, their love is free and their tempers roar, but in the storm, my spirit sings.” "Muddy Bottom Blues" is hard-edged with some harmonica flare, and the guitar and drum combination in "Whiskey Store" amplifies the lyrics and the emotion within the song. Whether it be the frequent guitar solos, Benoit’s vocals or the overall sound, each song has a little special something.

Benoit, who has been playing for more than 20 years, was first discovered in a bowling alley. He has a distinct Louisiana style with a hint of Cajun. For his last album, Medicine, Grammy-nominated songwriter Anders Osborne collaborated with him and came back with seven songs after visiting the Louisiana bayou.

Benoit has been attracted to the blues and jazz style of music even when growing up as a kid in Louisiana. He was easily influenced by the music because he was raised around it.

“There’s a lot of things that influence music, and it’s not always the same style that influences you,” Benoit said.

Benoit finds the older generation blues and jazz artists as an inspiration as they continue to progress with their musical careers. Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Hank Williams and B.B. King are just a few of the artists who have made an impact on him. In fact, when recording for Medicine, Osborne played with B.B. King’s guitar, Lucille.

Benoit's style is high-energy with a lot of soul, and it especially shines through his project called Voices of the Wetlands. VOW is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the depletion of Louisiana wetlands. The organization was formed before Hurricane Katrina occurred, but now its goal is to help prevent a similar scenario from happening again.

Benoit hopes the music will empower his listeners to talk to the government about control over the Mississippi River to prevent any further damage to the wetlands. VOW will be at a free three-day festival this October in Louisiana.

“We raise a lot of hell, not money," Benoit said. "Money is out of the equation. You can do a lot with your voice, yourself and your ideas."

Benoit's advice for aspiring blues and jazz artists is to stick to their beliefs and be persistent.

"Have a good long talk with yourself," he said. "People are going to want to see and hear a certain sound. Don’t give up your artwork for money. Do it the way you feel and the money will come. Stick to your guns, do your thing and you’ll be noticed without compromising.”

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