Blues guitarist Tab Benoit lets it all come naturally
Tab Benoit’s latest CD is a retrospective titled Legacy: The Best of Tab Benoit.
He told The Beat not to confuse it with a greatest hits record.
“I don’t have any hits,” the Louisiana bluesman said. “I guess it would be better to have all hits, because I wouldn't want to be a one-hit guy.”
He concluded, in an only-slightly-more-serious tone, “It’s a good thing, I guess, to have enough material for something like this.”
He didn’t pick the songs on the record, he said, nor did he want to, preferring to think about playing live (“That’s what I do.”) and the stuff he’s writing for his next record.
He was similarly matter-of-fact regarding his status as a master blues guitarist. A gifted player, Benoit downplayed technique in his makeup as a player.
“I’ve never really practiced,” he said. “If I pick up a guitar, I just start playing, leaving moments open to let things come that are there naturally.
“I’m not technical to where you think how great the licks were,” he explained. “I never try to stretch the balloon so far it’s going to pop. I just add a little piece now and then and the tool box gets bigger.”
Benoit began his musical journey as a drummer. He switched to guitar out of necessity as much as anything else, offering that it “seemed like everyone in Louisiana was a drummer at the time. Every band was looking for a guitar player. I figured that was the best way to get somewhere.”
Benoit believes his rhythm section background provides him with a different perspective on leading his own band, allowing him to better communicate musical concepts to people whose roles within the band are different, but with whom he shares more than just a stage.
“Starting at the back (of the stage) and working my way to the front, I learned to understand those guys and how to communicate to the entire group.”
Communication is job number one for Benoit as a songwriter and bandleader.
“I try to create a feel. The ‘wow’ factor to me is to create a feeling, to make people feel something by making sounds.”
Sounds, he said, that include both traditional blues and also the sounds of his native state.
“In Louisiana there are lots of different kinds of music, but it’s all about dancing,” he said. “Blues isn’t really about dancing, but I’ve sort of melded those things together. You put all those things together, and everything is available to you.”