Tab Benoit, with Louisiana's LeRoux,
Power of the Pontchartrain
(Telarc, 2007)

If there's one thing Louisiana bluesman Tad Benoit loves, it's recording with his contemporaries. His album Whiskey Store was cut with Jimmy Thackery, while Double Trouble teamed him up with Charlie Musselwhite. On Homesick for the Blues, Benoit partnered with Debby Davies and Kenny Neal. But he hit creative paydirt in 2006 with Brother to the Blues, which he recorded with Louisiana's LeRoux, a fine blues band that has been working since the 1980s and is best know as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's backing band. The album won a Grammy nomination and a great critical reception.

Small wonder Benoit wanted to work with these guys again. Power to the Pontchartrain is the follow-up to Brother to the Blues, and if you were wondering whether lightning could strike twice, the answer is definitely yes. These guys fit together like pistons in an engine. Too many times, the star forces the band into the role of accompanists, a rhythm section to provide a bottom for him while he stands center-stage. As Waylon Jennings put it, the "five-piece band staring at the backside of me."

Benoit and Louisiana's LeRoux come together like a band that's been doing 300 club dates a year for the past decade; their playing is sharp, precise, but at the same time loose and spontaneous-sounding and always, always, wonderful.

If you want a fresh and original take on the blues, you're going to want to hear this one.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

6 October 2007

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