As dusk begins to settle over a sundrenched Florida winter day and the temperature starts to cool, the evening in downtown St. Petersburg is starting to warm up. At the center of the heat wave is Jannus Live, where blues guitar god Tab Benoit is playing on this very night. For the lucky few who snatched up tickets to this limited seat, socially distant event they would bear witness to some of the most searing guitar work to ever hit the stage here or at any other venue. With Knoxville Tennessee’s very own The Sedonas opening this very show, indeed this would be a night of incredible music.
As the doors open up to Jannus Live, instead of the usual standing room only fare that this venue is known for, tables are setup with plenty of space apart to help protect everyone. As the tables filled quickly, a sense of excitement permeated the air. A real live actual concert was going to happen. With masks on, and hand sanitizer seemingly everywhere, people were being respectful of the situation at hand to keep events like tonight’s not so scarce.
Finally, the houselights dimmed over the courtyard where everyone was seated and the stage lights came alive as The Sedonas made there way out. This foursome based out of Knoxville Tennessee, is made up of lead singer James Connor Wike, guitarist Ryan Sise, bassist Adrian Mastin, and drummer Casey Green. As they launched into the first song of their set, the appreciative crowd was thoroughly entertained over the next 40 minutes. With music that is a mix of blues, americana and rock, they were a great choice to kick the night off.
After a brief intermission to change over the stage setup, it was finally time for the crowd to hear some delta blues courtesy of one of its finest purveyors, Tab Benoit. As Tab sauntered on stage along with his band mates bassist Corey Duplechin and drummer Terrence Higgins. The crowd let Tab know that they were thrilled to have him in the house. Armed with only his trusty yet battle worn Telecaster Thinline guitar he launched into the show. With no discernable setlist to follow the crowd was kept on their toes. There would be no sneaking on the internet to get an idea as to what would be next. As he buzz sawed his way through songs like “Why Are People Like That”, “Nothing Takes The Place Of You”, and “Shelter Me” Tab clearly brought his ‘A’ game to St. Petersburg, Florida. The fire that leapt from his fingertips and ran through his guitar then on to his amp showed no one any mercy. If you have never borne witness to his playing, tonight you would see why he is considered one of the top blues guitarists performing these days.
As good a musician that Tab Benoit is, his time on the road has also shown that the man can entertain a crowd with his stories as well. Every time he would chat with the crowd, it would always end in the audience laughing. Whether he was talking about being stuck at home because there was no touring going on, so he now had time to catch up on thirty years of chores or telling the people to get out of the bathroom because they were going to miss the next song; the results were same, everyone laughing. His relaxed good-natured charm and sly wit only added to the amazing music that he can create.
As the night would go on, the crowd would shout out song titles like “Night Train”, “Medicine”, and “A Whole Lot Of Soul” and he was up for the challenge of taking on all the requests. He even told the crowd that they had no rehearsals. He went on to say that he and the band “didn’t want to waste all that music on themselves, they wanted to save it all for you”. One of the highlights of the night was his guitar solo in “Hot Tamale Baby”. It lived up to the song titles name. His rapid fire, yet rhythmic strumming was a sight to behold and hear.
After three plus hours of music, the night finally had to end, and what a night it was. Thankfully, the folks at Jannus Live figured out a way to bring Tab Benoit to their stage so some of his lucky fans could safely see him play his heart out for them. Hopefully, the pandemic will subside, and Tab Benoit can stay touring and keep wowing all his fans. Make sure you check out his website to see if he is coming to venue near you.