Keep Reading. Subscribe Today.

Stay connected with our community and support nationally-acclaimed local news coverage. Sign up for a subscription today. Cancel anytime.

  • Already a subscriber?

Louisiana blues guitarist to make tour stop in Sumter

BY KAYLA ROBINS kayla@theitem.com
Posted 12/11/19

A renowned Louisiana-based blues guitarist will be taking over the stage at the Sumter Opera House this weekend.

Continuing his year-long Whiskey Bayou Revue tour, Tab Benoit will be at the venue in historic downtown Sumter on Saturday at 7:30 …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Louisiana blues guitarist to make tour stop in Sumter

Posted

A renowned Louisiana-based blues guitarist will be taking over the stage at the Sumter Opera House this weekend.

Continuing his year-long Whiskey Bayou Revue tour, Tab Benoit will be at the venue in historic downtown Sumter on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Benoit was recently voted the No. 9 Best Blues Guitarist by Guitar World Magazine and inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center Hall of Master Folk Artists. He has also been named BB King Entertainer of the Year twice, which is described as the highest accolade afforded to musicians and songwriters in blues music, according to the opera house.

"Tickets to this event would make a once-in-a-lifetime Christmas present for anyone on your list and a perfect surprise for that hard-to-buy someone," said Seth Reimer, cultural manager at the opera house. "If you love blues music, this is a must-see live experience."

Benoit grew up in the oil and fishing town of Houma, Louisiana, where he still lives today. He formed a trio in 1987 and began playing at clubs in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. In 1992, he released his first recording, "Nice and Warm," on the Justice Label.

Soon after the release, he began playing 250 shows a year, a schedule he has kept up for more than 20 years.

Remaining cities on his 2019 tour include Charleston, Savannah, Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans.

His discography is just as impressive as his tour schedule. He has released 19 albums adding up to hours and hours of listening material.

NPR Music described Benoit this way: "He uses the rasp in his voice and his emphatic diction to give each word its due. When he stops singing, he lets his guitar speak for him." His playing combines a number of blues styles - primarily Delta blues -though you'll also hear Swamp blues, Soul blues and Chicago blues.

Benoit is also the founder of Voice of the Wetlands, an organization born from his involvement in conservation efforts. It promotes awareness of the receding coastal wetlands of Louisiana.

He uses his music to promote the issues that plague the state's imperiled coast to his national audience and help others understand how Louisiana's rich culture is also going away as its wetlands disappear.

Opening for Benoit is an artist from his own label.

Eric Johanson recently signed to Whiskey Bayou Records, having previously been found tearing up New Orleans nightclub stages with his soulful blues guitar before finishing high school.

Johanson's debut album, "Burn It Down," was produced and engineered by Benoit at his studio in Houma, featuring Benoit on drums and Corey Duplechin on bass. Following its release in October 2017, Johanson has been touring across the United States opening for Benoit at sold-out theaters and performance halls.

He has toured across the nation and internationally as lead guitarist for the legendary Cyril Neville and Grammy-winning Zydeco artist Terrance Simien and has performed onstage with Benoit, JJ Grey & Mofro, Eric Lindell, Mike Zito, Andres Osborne, the Neville Brothers and many more.