TAB BENOIT/ERIC LINDELL
Guitarist Tab Benoit hails from Terrebonne Parish, La., home of the fictional bathtub in the film Beasts of the Southern Wild. So it comes as no surprise that he’s a staunch activist for bayou preservation, spearheading the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars who include NOLA luminaries like Dr. John. It’s a testament to Benoit’s soulful, blistering fretwork and whiskey-soaked vocals that he commands the respect of Crescent City bigwigs. Benoit nails the blues because he’s kept it simple in the course of his 20-year career. Like forebear John Lee Hooker, Benoit says he “turns on the machine and plays,” shunning contemporary flourishes. That doesn’t mean Benoit can’t mix it up. His rollicking R&B cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” is the best swamp boogie Creedence Clearwater Revival never recorded. Like Benoit, fellow Big Easy resident Eric Lindell fuses the blues to hip-shaking R&B and soaring soul. Lindell also adds country twang and his easygoing charisma to the mix. His guitar is suitably slinky, but his vocals are even better, suggesting a country soul cross between Van Morrison and Lyle Lovett. Unsung national treasures, both Benoit and Lindell embody and transcend the blues.