Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tab Wows 'Em at Skipper's

No wonder Tab Benoit's concert Friday night at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa was sold out: The hard-touring Louisiana blues man was accompanied by an all-star group of players who have worked on Benoit's Voice of the Wetlands recordings and concerts.

"It's crazy so many of y'all came to see us," he said near the start of the show.

Benoit, whose prowess as a singer and guitarist has accelerated rapidly in recent years, headed a band of musicians quite well known in their home state, and among regular visitors to Jazz Fest and the French Quarter Fest.

For the latest leg of his tour, he was joined by Meters bassist George Porter Jr. (one of the finest old-school funk bass players, period); fiddler Waylon Thibodeaux; harmonica and accordion player Jumpin' Johnny Sansone; Big Chief Monk Boudreaux (of Mardi Gras Indian group the Golden Eagles); and drummer David Peters.

And offering terrific rhythm-guitar work and several choice solos was a local "ringer," Tampa Bay area blues guitar favorite Damon Fowler. Said Benoit: "I'm letting - I'm making - Damon play with us."

The set featured tunes from Benoit's CDs (including last year's Power to the Pontchartrain) and discs by other musicians.

On the list: "I Got Loaded"; blues shuffle "One Foot in the Bayou"; the bluesy funk of Freddie King's "Pack It Up"; Doug Kershaw's "Louisiana Man"; "Give Me a Dollar" and plenty more likeminded blues, funk, cajun and New Orleans R&B.

Benoit plays host to the Voice of the Wetlands Festival. The fifth annual edition is slated for Oct. 10-12 in his hometown - Houma, La. For more information, click here.

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