with The Rumble
August 31, 2023
It may have been only a Thursday night in Boulder, CO, but Tab Benoit's concert made it feel like we were smack dab in New Orleans
on a sultry Saturday evening. Helping create that Mardi Gras vibe was the opening act, The Rumble, featuring Chief Joseph Boudreaux Jr.. Before they came out, the stage and mic stands were festooned with bayou moss and an eerie skull, placed on the front monitor, facing the crowd.
The Rumble is a seven-piece ensemble that features six Grammy-nominated musicians. Frontman and third-generation Chief Boudreaux does an excellent job with lead vocals and percussion, in his hand-sewn white feathers and beaded suita perfect tribute to the traditions of Black Indian culture. He's the son of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles.
Drummer Trenton O'Neal's bass drum was well-mic'd, and all could feel "the rumble" throughout Boulder's historic theater as their set began. His fringed shirt came off as things heated up. Trumpeter Aurélien Barnes, trombonist José Maize Jr., and keyboardist Andriu Yanovski added a New Orleans funk fusion layer to the group, especially on the hard-hitting "My People." Bassist TJ Norris and guitarist Ari Teitel took well-deserved solos that got the crowd on their feet and dancing. If you're a fan of The Neville Brothers or The Meters, you'll feel how The Rumble smartly struts right alongside them.
After a quick stage turnaround, Tab Benoit, bassist Corey Duplechin, and drummer Terrence Higgins entered to a raucous audience welcome.
"I'm Tab Benoit. I'm from Houma, Louisiana, and I like to play git-tar like this...," said the seasoned Delta bluesman before his singed-around-the-edges guitar began to squeal and moan. He jumped right into "Muddy Bottom Blues." While hardly coming up for a breath of air, he launched into a cover of Muddy Waters' "Why Are People Like That?" Joking with the audience in his Southern drawl, he said, "Those songs were just my stretching exercises I do before I actually play."
Benoit is one of the hardest-working bayou blues players in the business. He's been at it for thirty-five years, barely taking a day off from touring, and loving every minute of performing. His long, wavy locks get drenched in sweat before too long into the set, as he grimaces, head back, teeth clenched, to wring out, scratch out, milk out another searing riff.
His stage set-up is simple: one 1972 Fender Telecaster Thinline guitar that looks like it's been scorched and beat up in some back-alley brawl, the cord to the amp, and a Category 5 Amplifier. There's a second guitar on standby in case a string broke, but it was never needed. "There ain't no pedals up here, just this cord that connects me to electricity so I can bring out the swamp," Benoit proudly declared. Next to his water bottle is a small alligator head with a can of Tab soda in its open jaws!
Benoit's style of guitar playing has been compared to virtuosos like Albert King
and Albert Collins
, and his voice to a gritty Otis Redding
, but if you close your eyes and listen, Benoit's style is uniquely his. Duplechin and Higgins never try to overpower him but offer a funky foundation while he cuts loose during searing solos. Duplechin's deep bass sometimes landed like a well-aimed cannonball right on the target, anchoring Benoit's soaring notes. The trio never relies on a setlist, which makes every night of the tour a different thrill for the audience.
After 70 minutes, Benoit and his band left the stage. When the crowd went wild calling and stomping for an encore, Benoit returned for a moving solo version of "Long Lonely Bayou" and brought back the trio, along with his brother Tyron on concertina, which added a zydeco element. The show ended with Tab and Tyron trading solos on "Little Girl Blues."
The Rumble Setlist
Up Until The Morning; Uptown; Bow Down; Riverside; My People; Wildman.
Tab Benoit Setlist
Muddy Bottom Blues; Why Are People Like That?; What I Have To Do; Nothing Takes the Place of You; Standing On The Bank; Shelter Me; Nice and Warm; Medicine.
Long Lonely Bayou (solo); One Foot In The Bayou; Little Girl Blues.
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