Louisiana-born guitarist and singer Tab Benoitis from so deep in the wetlands that it's almost all ocean. Hailing from Houma, the seat of Terrebonne Parish, Benoit has indisputable bayou bona fides and the exposure to that musical and cultural melting pot called the Gulf Rim that comes with it. Telarc's Legacy: The Best of Tab Benoit demonstrates his expansive musical palette and sure grasp of zydeco, creole, blues, R&B, and rock as viewed through the NOLA prism. Selected from Benoit's Telarc catalog, Legacy features 14 songs recorded over 10 years that give a fair accounting of his very fine career.
The blues is central to the Benoit aesthetic. Benoit's "Nice and Warm" is a slow blues that was almost went unrecorded. Nevertheless, this piece was the title track on Benoit's first recording for Vanguard in 1999. The guitarist explains that he had been thinking of the song during the first recording sessions and did not decide to try it out until the rest of the album was in the can. It turned out so well that it titled the album. Benoit reprised the piece with Nighthawks guitarist Jimmy Thackery on Whiskey Store (Telarc, 2002). With Reese Wynans driving the Hammond B3, "Nice and Warm" becomes appropriately greasy and soulful. Benoit provides a searing introduction before launching into his plight of being cold far from home. The band allows plenty of room for Benoit to execute his ideas, providing spot-on dynamics in one of the harder musical genres to play well.
Benoit's solo is the first climax of the song; the crescendo builds to a dramatic breaking point before being brought back down for Reese Wynans' mellower organ solo. Another blues wave builds for guitarist Jimmy Thackery's solo before the song winds its way down like all blues: to that expected coda of resolution. If the United States gave the world nothing but the blues, that would have been enough. Had Benoit not recorded another note, "Nice and Warm" would remain a fitting legacy.
Tab Benoit: vocals, guitar; Jimmy Thackery: guitar; Reese Wynans:
Hammond B3; Tommy Shannon: bass; Chris Layton: drums.