3701 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria VA 22305
The Birchmere is a nationally recognized live music venue in business since 1966. Live music began there a few years after opening, mainly hosting bluegrass artists of the day. Since that time it has grown into one of the premier music venues in the country. I’ve seen many shows at The Birchmere and always enjoy the room. It seats roughly 350 people comfortably. You can order dinner and drinks once the doors open and you jockey for the best seat.
Like a kid seeing his first rock & roll show, I always look forward to a good concert. Seeing Tab Benoit is always an extra-special treat. On February 13, 2013 I had the pleasure of seeing – and more to the point – hearing Tab play at The Birchmere. I had the great pleasure to interview Tab before the set, check it out.
Tab Benoit is a New Orleans blues guitarist who plays with a drummer and one of the best bass players I’ve ever seen – Corey Duplechin. Tab’s style is unique. He rocks the blues. His passion for the music takes you over, reminiscent of the way Stevie Ray Vaughan always seemed to have the perfect note at any given moment. It doesn’t take long to want to jump up and dance to the funky NOLA blues coming from the stage. Tab plays a Fender Telecaster slim-line guitar. Three identical ones actually, directly plugged into his amp. No pedals, toys, or effects. This is one of the reasons I like his tone so much. There are few, if any, barriers between what is in his head and what the audience hears. It’s up to his fingers to translate, nothing else.
If you’ve never seen him live, in addition to being an incredible blues/rock guitar player, he is also a pretty good stand-up comic! His shows are generally sprinkled with a lot of banter between tunes, and this night was no exception. One of my favorite lines from a show last year was contrasting practicing in an empty room to playing live for an audience. He said “…the music sounds so much better when it bounces off of peoples’ faces.” I had never considered that, but if you think about it, it makes complete sense.
His first album was released in 1993 and his latest solo album “Medicine” was released in 2011. Medicine was written with Anders Osborne who also played on the album. As he told me during the interview, it had been a while since he has written any new material, so he went back to the bayou with Anders to write and in the end recorded Medicine. In addition to his solo work, Tab champions The Voice of the Wetlands which is an organization dedicated to the preservation of Louisiana’s wetlands.
The show was approximately two hours of a wide cross-section of his music. The crowd was rockin’ as the set progressed and Tab became more relaxed (possibly aided by the Courvoisier he was sipping between songs). If you like funky, loud blues and you see that Tab is playing anywhere near you, do yourself a huge favor, go get some medicine. You will not be disappointed.
More about Tab Benoit here: http://www.tabbenoit.com
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