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Tab Benoit

Live performances are the way musicians prove their mettle, and this recording showcases the raw energy of this Louisiana-born singer and guitarist, who is at the top of his game both as performer and songwriter. Captured during a single night in Nashville in the spring of 2007, the set opens with "Night Train," an electrically charged shuffle that sets the tone for the entire disc. Benoit has a strong singing voice and matching guitar skills, and he takes full advantage of that even on slower numbers like "Darkness," a tune about a doomed love affair. Harmonica player Jimmy Hall joins Benoit on "Rendezvous With the Blues," a funky rock ballad in which he also sings lead. Benoit responds to Hall's improvised vocals with cleverly placed riffs, and you can hear the audience cheering throughout the piece. Jumpin' Johnny Sansone guests on "Fever for the Bayou," a traditional Louisiana Mardi Gras number played as a duet without Benoit's backing band. Also worth checking out is "New Orleans Ladies," a mellow ode to the women of the Big Easy that has Hall sharing a close harmony with Benoit, and also "Muddy Bottom Blues," a 12-bar number played in a completely laid-back manner. Second only to actually having been present at the concert itself, Night Train to Nashville is a solid live album that makes you long for gritty late night blues.

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Ernest Barteldes

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