Benoit - Night Train to Nashville
What do you get when you mix New Orleans with
the Cajun swampland, the Mississippi Delta, a bit of Beale Street
and even a touch of Nashville? How about the newest CD from rising
blues star Tab Benoit, Night Train to Nashville. Benoit and
his Louisiana’s Leroux band recorded the 11-track CD live over two
night at Nashville’s The Place On Second Street, just before picking
up a couple of awards at the 2007 Blues Music Association confab in
Nine of the 11 cuts are Benoit originals,
co-produced by David “Z” Rivkin, who also produced for Prince, Billy
Idol and Etta James, among others. These cuts reflect not only the
Houma, Louisiana, influences of Benoit, but also those of his
bandmates, guitarist Jim Odom, Tony Haselden on banjo, Nelson
Blanchard behind the keys, bassist Leon Medica, David Peters on
drums and percussionist Mark Duthu.
Here’s a review of what I discovered when I
cued up Night Train To Nashville:
The disk kicks off with the title cut, a pure
bluser highlighted by some John Lee Hooker style gravely lyrics.
Next up is “Solid Simple Things,” with it’s country-flavored
Nashville-style picking. “Darkness” is a raw sampling of old
fashion Delta blues, dominated by some stinging guitar work.
With the fourth cut, “Too Sweet for Me,” Benoit
share vocals with Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, before
bouncing some stylish guitar licks off Wilson’s harp.
“Moon Comin’ Over the Hill” starts slowly but
quickly builds to a bouncy dance beat. Some nice tremolo guitar
work enhances Benoit’s vocal duet with Jim Lauderdale. Benoit
spices up the next cut, “Lost in your Lovin’,” a rowdy Cajun
original that features some peppery guitar work and some swampy
Wet Willie’s Jimmy Hall grabs the microphone
for his own “Rendezvous With The Blues,” a song that will remind
many of both the vocal and guitar stylings of B.B. King and his
often pained lyrics. This one probably works well live—or in the
bedroom—but on disk it’s a bit repetitious.
Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone adds his virtuoso
harmonica work to Benoit’s “Fever For The Bayou,” a rockabilly-style
song Benoit accurately describes as a “three people sitting on the
porch kind of song.”
Organist Nelson Blanchard stands out on “”New
Orleans Ladies,” a song that appears to have been heavily--but not
negatively--influenced by the late ‘60’s psychedelic band, Procol
Harum and their “Whiter Shade of Pale.” Following is “Muddy Bottom
Blues,” a gritty night moves blues number that reflects the heat and
humidity of the south Louisiana swamplands.
Benoit wraps up with “Stackolina.” I’m not
sure who—or what—Stackolina is (girl, dog, stack of gumbo?), but
with Waylon Thibodeaux’ washboard undercurrent and Kim Wilson’s
choo-choo train harp, it’s a fun song to wrap up an excellent
With great songs, a great band and some great
guest artists, this one just about has it all. But, it would have
been nice to add a guest zydeco player, especially on “Fever For the
One and seven-eighths Jax bottle up for
Night Train to Nashville
Reviewer, journalist and
educator Rob Paullin has worked and sampled the blues everywhere
from Chicago, New Orleans and Memphis to Kyiv, Beijing and Venice.