Live in the present. The foundation of Buddhism also can apply to entertainment. Attend a Tab Benoit concert and you’ll see.
Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Revue plays Friday at the Crystal Bay Casino. Record labelmates Eric McFadden and Eric Johanson will open. Benoit’s early onstage appearances were as a drummer and a comedian. He will do both, backing McFadden and Johanson on drums before he breaks out his splintered, old guitar and cracks wise in between his songs.
He’s a Louisiana wetlands bluesman influenced by Albert Collins and George Carlin.
“To this day I’ve never seen anyone command an audience like George Carlin,” Benoit said before a previous Lake Tahoe appearance. “He had the whole crowd laughing so hard. I was gasping for air. I felt like an idiot because I was about to pass out and I looked around and everybody around me was doing the same thing. He knew how far to push it right before we passed out. He would pause for a second and let us catch our breath. He was that good.”
Benoit is a master storyteller.
“He’ll embellish stories a little bit over time and then they eventually become these outlandish tales,” McFadden said. “He’s always in the moment. He likes to socialize. If you are having a conversation with him, he’s attentive and focused, and if he’s onstage, he’s completely in it.”
Benoit explained how living in the present enhances his performance.
“Doing standup helped me play the way that I play. Everything is improvised and off the cuff. Take each moment for what it is and make the best out of that instead of trying to create moments out of thin air. That gave me a lot more confidence to just release myself to the moment and just let it happen.
“I can’t stand rehearsing and I can’t stand watching a band that is so rehearsed that you know they don’t even have to think about it to play it. What good is that? You want the guys who are in the band to be fully into the moment so that you can get into the moment as an audience member. I don’t want to deprive the audience of that.”
Benoit beats his Telecaster Thinline guitar like a drum. During a show in Reno last year, he said, “This guitar didn’t look this was when I bought it. This is the result of Courvoisier and sweat.”
McFadden talked about Benoit’s guitar style.
“He’s got great phrasing and he’s really aggressive,” McFadden said. “He just digs in. But he’s also very dynamic and nuanced. When Tab plays, you feel he’s completely digging in there and just taking everything he’s got in there and putting it out. I really appreciate that. He plays with a good amount of passion and fire.”
Benoit has been the recipient of the greatest Blues Foundation honor, B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. He’s a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. As president of the Voice of the Wetlands, he’s an environmental activist.
Yet, he waxed humility during his show in Reno.
“It’s nice that I can go to The Home Depot and not be recognized except by you and a few other cool people,” he said. “Does anybody have a request?”
There was a huge audience response.
“I said anybody, not everybody,” said Benoit, before commenting about all the different songs titles people called for. “It’s all my stuff! That’s pretty awesome. We’ve gotten out of the ‘Free Bird’ range.”
— Tim Parsons
- Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Revue
Featuring Eric McFadden and Eric Johanson
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room (seated show)
Red Room after-party: Jason King Band