One of the most impressive guitarists to emerge from the rich Bayous of Southern Louisiana in recent years, Tab Benoit’s guitar tone can be recognized before his Otis-Redding-ish voice resonates from the speakers. He doesn’t rely on any effects and his setup is simple. It consists of a guitar, cord, and Category 5 Amplifier. The effects that you hear come from his fingers.
Born on November 17, 1967, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Benoit grew up in the nearby oil and fishing town of Houma, where he still resides today. Musically, he was exposed early on to traditional Cajun waltzes and the country music broadcast on his hometown’s only radio station. Benoit’s father was himself a musician; as such, the family home was filled with various instruments. He began playing drums but switched to guitar because the only gigs to be had in rural Louisiana were held in churches and at church fairs, and organizers would not allow loud drums to be played at these events.
A guitar player since his teenage years, Tab Benoit appeared at the Blues Box, a music club and cultural center in Baton Rouge run by guitarist Tabby Thomas. Playing guitar alongside Thomas, Raful Neal, Henry Gray, and other high-profile regulars at the club, Benoit learned the blues first-hand from a faculty of living blues legends. He formed a trio in 1987 and began playing clubs in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He began touring other parts of the South two years later and started touring more of the United States in 1991. Today he continues to perform across the country.
Benoit was featured in the IMAX film, Hurricane on the Bayou.
Sonny Landreth is known as “the King of Zydeco” and plays with a strong zydeco influence. Guitarist Eric Clapton has said that Landreth is one of the most advanced guitarists in the world and one of the most under-appreciated. Landreth is best known for his slide guitar playing, having developed a technique where he also frets notes and plays chords and chord fragments by fretting behind the slide while he plays.
Landreth plays with the slide on his little finger so that his other fingers have more room to fret behind the slide. He’s also known for his right-hand technique, which involves tapping, slapping, and picking strings, using all of the fingers on his right hand. He wears a special thumb pick/flat pick hybrid on his thumb so he can bear down on a pick while simultaneously using his fingerstyle technique for the slide.
Sonny usually plays in an open tuning his favorite is open E (low to high: E B E G# B E). Sonny prefers a heavy glass slide, which he wears on the fourth finger of his fretting hand, leaving his remaining fingers free to fret in a conventional manner. He often frets a note or two behind the slide to give unusual voicings.