Tab, Anders, & Big Chief Monk: A rare performance


Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
The Hat Factory
Richmond, VA
December 4, 2010

On a cold and snowy night in Richmond VA, a group of seasoned road warriors from New Orleans came together at The Hat Factory for some hot blues, rock and soul. The small four night tour in North Carolina and Virginia that Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux did was really special, because outside of an occasional Voice of the Wetlands show in Louisiana, these three headliners rarely get to share the stage.

The night started with Tab in his accustomed trio form, with the extraordinary Cory Duplechin on his black Fender Jazz bass and Doug Gay on drums. The crowd was loaded for Tab and he did not disappoint, firing into staples like “Night Train” and “Too Many Dirty Dishes.” Hardcore Tab fans were in the gig right from Jump Street, singing along with every word and hanging the solos that spewed forth from his beautiful, well worn, and screaming Telecaster. Tab plays with the ease and phrasing of a true veteran, with a dirty and low down tone. He seamlessly swaps beautiful melodic lines and blistering repetitive blues licks with emotive and crowd inciting solos interspersed. After about four songs, Tab brought Anders Osborne out and the already energetic environ took one giant leap even further forward.

web-026.jpgAnders put on his slide and added his unique guitar voice to a couple more Tab led songs and some songs such as the funky “Bayou Breeze” and the beautiful ballad, “Louisiana Sunshine” from the Voice of the Wetlands project. These guys don’t work off of a set list and it was fun to watch an song that was unfamiliar to Anders was begun by Tab with Cory Duplechin taking on the role of guide as he steered Anders through the first time, calling out the changes. From there, Anders played like he had written it himself. Anders would eventually take the lead in a way that was all his own, changing the lyrics in “Louisiana Rain” on the fly to include Richmond, giving the gig a more personal feel.

Giving a gig a personal and intimate feel is also one of the things of which Tab is best. Often when a song is completed and Tab needs to tune up, he will engage the audience, asking some questions and reacting like a seasoned standup comedian. He is adept at getting people to laugh and this is what has endeared him to so many fans. There is nothing fake or contrived about these guys, they are the real deal, and their simple honesty as people and musicians breeds a dedicated following.

After several songs where the two guitarists met at center stage, trading licks, extending solos and somehow still artfully staying out of each other’s way, everyone left the stage except Tab, who took up residence on a stool and chatted with the crowd some more. He asked for requests and played several, including “My Bucket’s got a Hole in it.” Upon finishing that, Tab took up residence where his career started, on the drums. Tab is a good drummer, keeping solid time with the ability to lock into a groove. After a few minutes, bassist Cory Duplechin came out and blew the place up with a funky bad solo that really whipped the crowd up. At one point Cory played the neck of his bass with both hands like a set of conga drums and still managed to keep playing melodic parts by hammering on the strings with his right hand. Anders came out and joined in, finishing off this nicely improvised jam. Then Anders introduced the other featured attraction of the night, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.

The Big Chief was wearing his full blue Indian suit, made himself with beads and feathers, capped with an amazing headdress. Monk Boudreaux has real gravitas, and the show at this point became centered on him. Monk sang and played tambourine while dishing an easy smile, becoming immersed in the groove the band was laying down behind him. The energy of the show from this point forward was explosive.

The show peaked through several songs and the band took a short break, and returned for a couple of encores that picked the energy up right where it had left off. It was indeed a treat to see these three headliners performing together, with a great rhythm section backing them up. It is an ensemble not to be missed.

Click the thumbnail to view Shots from the show by Bob Adamek Of Todd Is My Copilot