Guitar slingers Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery face off in six string shoot-outs at Blues Festivals and Clubs throughout the country whenever their schedules permit. With both men now recording for the Telarc label it's only logical that a collaborative CD would
be the next step. "Whiskey Store," is a contemporary Blues Summit that also features Double Trouble's Tommy Shannon (bass), Chris Layton (drums) and Reese Wynans
(piano & B3) along with Charlie Musselwhite adding his harp to three tracks.
Both Benoit and Thackery are equally adept at straight blues or more modern fare; here they choose to follow the SRV path that combines the two into a recognizable
hybrid. With the right backing they create a hard-edged sound that rocks while maintaining a wicked groove of the kind only true blues can inhabit. Throughout, the feel of an offhand jam pervades these sessions, just a bunch of folks with chops to spare
enjoying each other's company.
Thackery starts things off with "I Ain't Broke," a rockabilly style rave up that evokes his roots as a founding member of bar band supreme, the Nighthawks. Benoit follows up with the wailing title cut that comes off as equal parts Albert King and The Allman
Brothers Band. "Away Too Long," written by Colin Linden and Anders Osborne showcases Benoit's Louisiana sound with rhythms that the bayou bred bluesman can
wrap his chops, both vocally and on the fretboard, around.
Charlie Musslewhite first appears on Percy Mayfield's "Strange Things Happen," his harp blowing hard and strong in contrast to Jimmy Thackery's paper thin vocals. Make that sandpaper thin. There's a coarse quality to his singing that is similar to that of a
strained stereo speaker, threatening to give out completely yet persevering with a charm and moxie that keeps the listener at ease and rooting for more.
Tab Benoit's younger, stronger vocal chords step up to the plate next with a stunning version of the title track from his debut album, "Nice and Warm." It's at this point that the Double Trouble rhythm aces assert themselves, especially Reese Wynans' goose flesh
raising work on the Hammond B-3. More than a decade after Stevie Ray Vaughn's passing, it's wonderful to hear that distinctive sound in a heartfelt setting that celebrates the joy, so prematurely ripped away.
Blues business out of the way, Thackery/Benoit and company proceed to take on the most influential songwriters of 60's rock n' roll. Thackery attacks Bob Dylan's "Leopard-skin Pill -Box Hat" with the abandon of a man freed from the constraints of style and form. Benoit claims Neil Young's "Unknown Legend" for his own with the help of Musslewhite's sweet, country style harp and some lilting peddle steel work.
The Stone's "Last Time," however, steals the show. Jangly guitars and tambourine included, it comes off as more of a beer soaked frat party romp than well thought out cover. Which, hopefully, was the whole glorious point.
Producer Randy Labbe and staff at The Studio in Portland, Maine create a warm sonic setting for these brothers of the road to kick back and cut loose in. The joy of the moment is palpable in the grooves held within. "Whiskey Store," is a portrait of friends doing what they love with people that they don't get to spend nearly enough time with. Combine that with the talent involved and a joyous noise worth experiencing over and over is the result.
Telarc International Corporation
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Cleveland, Ohio 44122
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Bill Halaszynski, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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