Tab Benoit – Cherry Tree Blues
A guitar player since his teenage years, Benoit appeared at the Blues Box, a music club and cultural center in Baton Rouge run by guitarist Tabby Thomas. Playing guitar alongside Thomas, Raful Neal, Henry Gray, and other high-profile regulars at the club, Benoit learned the blues first-hand from a faculty of living blues legends. He formed a trio in 1987 and began playing clubs in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He began touring other parts of the South two years later and started touring more of the United States in 1991. Today he continues to perform across the country.
Tab Benoit landed a recording contract with Texas-based Justice Records and released a series of recordings, beginning in 1992 with Nice and Warm. These Blues Are All Mine, was released on Vanguard in 1999 after Justice folded.
That same year, Benoit appeared on Homesick for the Road, a collaborative album on the Telarc label with fellow guitarists Kenny Neal and Debbie Davies. Homesick not only served as a showcase for three relatively young musicians, but also launched Benoit’s relationship with Telarc, which came to fruition in 2002 with the release of Wetlands.
On Wetlands, Benoit mixed original material such as the autobiographical “When a Cajun Man Gets the Blues” and “Fast and Free” with Professor Longhair’s “Her Mind Is Gone” and Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine”.
Later in 2002, Benoit released Whiskey Store, a collaborative recording with fellow guitarist and Telarc labelmate Jimmy Thackery, harpist Charlie Musselwhite, and the Double Trouble rhythm section consisting of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton.
In 2003, Benoit released Sea Saint Sessions, recorded at Big Easy Recording Studio in New Orleans. In addition to Benoit and his regular crew, bassist Carl Dufrene and drummer Darryl White, Sea Saint Sessions included guest appearances by Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Cyril Neville, Brian Stoltz, and George Porter. That same year, Benoit and Thackery took their dueling guitar show on the road, and recorded a March 2003 performance at the Unity Centre for Performing Arts in Unity, Maine. The result was Whiskey Store Live, released in February 2004.
Benoit’s 2005 release was Fever for the Bayou, which also included guest appearances by Cyril Neville (vocals and percussion) and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux (vocals). In 2006, Benoit recorded Brother To The Blues with Louisiana’s LeRoux. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. His cover of Buddy Miller’s “Shelter Me” was the theme song for the Discovery Channel TV-series, Sons of Guns. In April, 2011 Benoit released Medicine, featuring Anders Osborne, Michael Doucet of Beausoleil, and Ivan Neville