In the heart of Saint Petersburg, Florida, international artist Tab Benoit slipped in front of a winter cold front to finally get back to the bay area. The air was chilly and the threat of rain was high. The gates opened at 6:00pm at the outdoor courtyard venue, Jannus Live, in downtown Saint Petersburg. Usually a standing-room-only crowd but this night tables were set in the courtyard and ticket sales were limited to 300 attendees. The dreaded pandemic protocol kept fans at a distance from the stage and each other. Ain’t no matter nohow as Tab brought the bayou of Houma, Louisiana to Central Florida. Houma, Louisiana is a small town Southwest of New Orleans rich in Cajun heritage and a hot spot for the blues. Tab’s songs include references to the bayou and good old down home gumbo.
The Sedonas opened the show at 7:00pm and played for roughly 40 minutes. Formed in 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee, the band has released two albums to date with the latest self-titled album released last year. The Sedonas are pure Americana with multiple influences melted together. Rock, blues jams, great vocals, and even a bit of country flair bring the audience in at every turn. This band is getting better with age and anticipation is growing for their next release which they are currently working on.
James Connor Wike – Singer/Keyboard/Harmonicist
Adrian Mastin – Bass
Ryan “The Velvet Hammer” Sise – Guitar
Casey Green – Drums
The stage was changed over and promptly at 8:00pm Tab Benoit took the stage. The set started with incredible energy, and the band played three songs starting out with “Why Are People Like That?”. Then Tab took a minute to chat with the crowd. He was very charismatic and charming, and the audience ate it up! Tab spoke about how he longed to get the pandemic break over and how he spent the time crossing off his to do list at home that had accumulated over the past 30 years. Us married folk call it the Honey-Do-List. As the crowd settled in, the band played a few more songs. At the next break, Tab asked the audience for requests. The shows dynamic changed drastically at this point as the crowd felt they were a part of the show. During the last hour of the show at every song break, the audience screamed out their favorite Tab Benoit song. The bond with the audience grew as the set moved on and the audience felt they were now a part of the show.
To my right, a woman was screaming “Nothing Takes the Place of You” at every break. Then finally, the second to last song of the set, he played “Nothing Takes the Place of You“. That woman immediately grabbed her companion and started slow dancing up on the balcony above the right side of the stage. It was actually a touching moment as it was easy to see the pure joy in her smile.
The delta blues is a moving emotional genre of music. With the intimacy of this performance, it was easy to take in the fan reaction throughout the night’s performance. This was my first experience seeing Tab Benoit. But, he is no stranger to Saint Petersburg, Florida, or me moving forward.
Tab Benoit plays primarily delta blues. He plays a Stock 1972 Fender Telecaster Thinline. In 2019 he founded his own record label Whiskey Bayou Records. Currently Alastair Greene, JP Soars, Damon Fowler, Eric McFadden, Eric Johanson, and Jeff McCarty are under the label. Benoit has won the Blues Music Awards Contemporary Blues Male Artist two years in a row in 2012 and 2013 and has 18 albums in his discography. Tab Benoit is a blues superstar, so get out to see him if he stops by!
Tab Benoit – Guitar
Corey Duplechin – Bass
Terence Higgins – Drums
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