Online since August 2002

A long pull on the blues

From the Winter 2003 issue.

Whiskey Store Live
Whiskey Store Live
By Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery

Telarc Records: 2004

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.

When bluesmen Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery teamed up for the 2002 collection, "Whiskey Store," it was a shot-in-the-dark pairing that was really on target.

While the Louisiana-bred Benoit favors a swampy blues sound that mixes in elements of Cajun music and R&B, Thackery comes more from the rock side of the blues, dating back to his early years with the Nighthawks, a Washington, D.C.-based bar band that straddled the line between Chicago-style blues and rock 'n' roll.

"Whiskey Store" could have turned into a guitar duel between two players with distinctive styles, each trying to top the other. Instead, Benoit and Thackery kept their egos in check and turned out a set of mostly covers that blended their talents perfectly. The album earned a load of positive reviews, with Living Blues calling it "a rollickin' hour-long party."

The success of "Whiskey Store" prompted a subsequent tour with a March 2003 performance in Unity, Maine, being released by Telarc Blues as "Whiskey Store Live."

Six songs from the studio set are given the live treatment, with lengthier solos and solid backing from a touring band that features Jimmy Carpenter on sax and Ken Faltinson on the B-3. Add in Benoit's "Bayou Boogie," the Otis Redding classic "These Arms of Mine" and the often-covered "I Got Loaded," and this party stretches well past an hour.

Benoit is the better singer and his talents are featured on such songs as the high-energy "Bone Pickin'," while Thackery takes center stage on a rockin' version of Bob Dylan's "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat." Together, they kick the set off with the instrumental "Freddy's Combo," a nearly 8 1/2-minute salute to late Texas blues legend Freddie King.

Those who already own the studio collection will enjoy how some of its songs sound in a live setting. But anyone who loves guitar-based blues will find a lot of reasons to keep visiting this "Whiskey Store."

Review by Don Weiner. Don is a writer and editor based in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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