Bluesman Tab Benoit is the big winner of the 33rd Blues Music Awards. Benoit took three awards: Contemporary Male Artist and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, and his album Medicine won Contemporary Blues Album. The Blues Music Awards were held Thursday May 10, 2012 at the Cook Convention Center in Memphis, Tennessee.
“It’s such an honor to win the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award,” Benoit says. “They gave this award to B.B. so many times, it’s named after him. I had a friend who once met B.B. and asked him, ‘Who should I listen to when I first get into the blues?’ B.B. King could have named almost anyone, but instead he said, ‘Tab Benoit.’ That’s why the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award means so much to me.”
Medicine was released April 26, 2011, on Telarc. The 11-track album features seven Benoit originals co-written with ace songwriter Anders Osborne. “Anders and I have been friends for years, and we have a very comfortable relationship,” says Benoit, a singer-songwriter and guitarist with a repertoire that ranges from swamp-pop classics to gritty blues and rootsy jams. “Songwriting needs to feel natural. It needs to flow easily. When he and I went out on the bayou, we came back with seven songs! Anders also played most of the rhythm parts on the album. He does a good job of not stepping on what I’m doing and making it fit the song.”
The album was recorded at Louisiana’s legendary Dockside Studio (B.B. King, Dr. John, Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal, Buckwheat Zydeco), located on a 12 acre estate in the heart of Cajun country on the banks of the Vermilion Bayou, and engineered by David Z (Prince, Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy, Gov’t Mule). The award-winning music producer/engineer worked with Benoit on three earlier releases (Fever for the Bayou, Power of the Pontchartrain and Night Train to Nashville). “When David’s in the booth, I don’t have to worry,” says Benoit. “He’s always comfortable with the way I work. We have a lot of fun and like to joke around.”
Medicine highlights the work of keyboardist Ivan Neville, drummer Brady Blade and bassist Corey Duplechin. Fiddler/singer Michael Doucet of BeauSoleil makes a special appearance on three tracks.
“‘Medicine’ captures what this album is all about,” he says. “Let music be the medicine. Like John Lee Hooker once said, ‘Blues is the healer.’”
Benoit is a determined conservation advocate. Benoit is a driving force behind Voice of the Wetlands, an organization working to save Louisiana’s wetlands. In 2010, he received the Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. Benoit also starred in the iMax motion picture Hurricane on the Bayou, a documentary of Hurricane Katrina’s effects and a call to restore the wetlands.
In 2007, Benoit won the dual awards of B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and Best Contemporary Male Performer at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis (formerly the W.C. Handy Awards). In 2006, he received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album for Brother to the Blues, a collaboration with Louisiana’s LeRoux. LeRoux joined Benoit on Power of the Pontchartrain in 2007 and the live Night Train to Nashville in 2008.
Legacy: The Best of Tab Benoit, a 14-song compilation of recordings from Benoit’s years, so far, on the Telarc label, was released April 3, 2012.
For more information and a complete list of 2012 BMA winners: www.blues.org