Highway 90 has served Tab Benoit well. The 38-year-old Houma native is Louisiana to the core, a diehard sportsman who's lived on the bayou his whole life and uses his fishing camp as his primary songwriting spot. And he's a spirited musical traveler as well, frequently heading east to the Crescent City to jam with heavyweights like bassist George Porter Jr. and motoring west to find inspiration in swamp-pop anthems like Lil' Bob & the Lollipops' "I Got Loaded." Since his 1992 debut album Nice and Warm (which sparked a number of flattering but misguided comparisons to Stevie Ray Vaughan), Benoit's steadily toned down his early blues-rock leanings and become a musical sponge for indigenous Louisiana rhythms. He's incorporated chugging zydeco licks into his percussive staccato guitar lines and gotten progressively funkier in recent years, collaborating with Cyril Neville on the recent Voices of the Wetlands CD.
Benoit's new CD, Brother to the Blues, is a tip of the hat to country music's role in Louisiana music history. Joined by fiddler Waylon Thibodeaux, alt-country singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale and legendary Texas renegade Billy Joe Shaver, Benoit evokes memories of the Louisiana Hayride radio show by putting his stamp on Hank Williams' prison lament "I Heard that Lonesome Whistle Blow," Lauderdale's "I'm On Your Side" pledge and the last-call pathos of the title track. It's all tied together by Benoit's bayou syncopation, best exemplified in the swampy groove of "Moon Comin' Over the Hill" and the dance hall tribute "Can't Do One More Two Step." With Brother to the Blues, Benoit offers a soulful reminder that blues, country, funk and R&B are close musical siblings in Louisiana.
Tab Benoit's Brother to the Blues (Telarc Records) is available locally at Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Circuit City or online at www.tabbenoit.com.
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AUG 29 Everyone who cares about Louisiana should take time to peruse this story about coastal loss from Bob Marshall of The Lens. It's not enough to call it a story; it's an interactive experience packed with data and amazing graphics, timelines, history, photos and excellent writing. Set aside some time, because you can't go through this one in a few minutes.
JUN 29 This bizarre story from the Advocate on the shooting of a Baton Rouge television personality reads like the script of a soap opera - but not a good one. The allegations against him include sexual abuse of children, including the alleged shooter, and a sham immigration marriage involving his own daughter. The other side? He was a chaplin for the Sheriff's Office in Baton Rouge and preached in a local church.
AUG 29 Here's a story from CBS News about a killer amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish. The story made all three networks (CBS, ABC, NBC) as well as Fox "News," although they have not yet found out how it is Obama's fault. Seriously, the good news is that so far officials know of no one sickened by the water.
AUG 29 Huffington Post has a blog called Love Letters, which is grandly described as "an anthology of reflections on places the world over." This entry is from LSU Football Coach Les Miles, who, it appears, loves Baton Rouge. (Of course he does; he's a rich straight white man.) And certainly Baton Rouge loves him - unless he loses (ask Curley "Golden Flake" Hallman about that) or leaves (ask Nick Saban).
AUG 29 Blogger Bob Mann comments here upon Governor Bobby Jindal's federal lawsuit about Common Core. Mann calls it a "thinly veiled campaign document" and that might be the nicest thing he says in this post. Most troubling for Jindal and his aspirations, Mann has unearthed what Bobby said just a few years ago when he first decided to shove Common Core down our throats.
AUG 29 Blogger Tom Aswell has several developments here related to the so-called Edmonson amendment. The most entertaining one is possibly Tom's acknowledgement that a State Police official is (allegedly) calling the bloggers covering the story some colorful names. Listen up, cowboy: You really think two veterans like Tom Aswell and CB Forgotston care if you call them idiots?
AUG 29 Gotta love those journalists who write something with the enthusiasm that implies they're the first one to figure something out. Mostly, they're not. This is one of those times; the post on Slate Magazine says that Bobby Jindal's Common Core lawsuit is a political stunt. Well - Duh.
AUG 29 This story by WVLA tells us about a guy who got busted for speeding in Baton Rouge. Who cares? This guy took that infraction to new heights by going 129 miles per hour on Nicholson Drive. Poor fella - he probably has spent so much time sitting in Baton Rouge traffic he just had to cut lose.
AUG 28 As the controversy surrounding the Office of Group Benefits intensifies, blogger Tom Aswell gives us some background on the current problems. The OGB, which handles health insurance for current and retired state employees, is deep in the red since it was privatized by Jindal, and Aswell gives us the skinny: this great plan was designed by ALEC. The company handling it? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana - a longtime member of ALEC.
AUG 28 Blogger CB Forgotston has a concept for a new reality show: the wives of the "Dork Dynasty." That's the name that some troopers have given to State Police Commander Mike Edmonson and his inner circle. The ladies CB has picked for his cast are not just housewives, however, and the connections here are pretty interesting.
AUG 28 Blogger Ian McGibboney is writing about the strife in Ferguson in this post, and articulating what many people down south are saying. There's a fairy tale about how there's tons of racism in the South, but it's all hunky dory up North. (Really? Look again.)
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