Tab Benoit – Night Train To Nashville
No other blues musician channels the essence of Louisiana swamps — all that warm, waterlogged muck and moss drooping from cypress trees — quite like Tab Benoit. He nails it on four songs from this live collection: “Moon Coming Over The Hill”, “Fever For the Bayou”, “Muddy Bottom Blues” and “Stackolina”. Collectively, they cover second-line to swamp boogie to snaking Cajun struts.
Benoit writes some potent songs, but the best things he has going for him are his grainy, humid drawl and his percussive way with a Stratocaster. He’ll laze in a tree-shaded groove until he can’t take the mugginess anymore, then he’ll burst into a highly rhythmic solo (after all, he was a drummer first).
Louisiana R&B-pop band LeRoux backs him on this set, while Jimmy Hall, Kim Wilson, Johnny Sansone and others jump in on harp and vocals. For the most part, the guests are a welcome addition — Hall and Wilson’s playing brings a striking, caustic counterpart to Benoit’s bright, salty guitar tone — but Sansone’s harp blowing steps on Benoit’s singing and playing a bit too much during “Fever For The Bayou”.
It’s just plain natural to hear Benoit in a live setting, where the contrasts between laid-back grooves and heat-crazed solos are most intense, and everyone there is knee-deep in it with him.