Kent Blues Festival coming Friday and Saturday

Tab Benoit to headline event with concert at Kent Stage

By Kelly Maile | Staff Writer Published:

Grammy-nominated Cajun bluesman and conservation activist, Tab Benoit, will headline the Kent Stage, 175 E. Main St. at 8 p.m. Saturday as a part of this year's 5th Annual Kent Blues Fest.

"Whatever we do is different every night," Benoit said. "It will be an improvised show like we always do it. We take the moment and run away with it."

Benoit's music is Bayou blues-based, guitar driven with some cajun elements.

"There's a little bit of everything," Benoit said. "It's an improvised, honest version of self. I'm from Louisiana and that's just going to come out in my music. It's not something I try to do."

Benoit writes his music as it comes to him-at the spur of the moment and in the moment.

"If I'm supposed to do it then I let it do itself," Benoit said. "I don't think much, I just feel and play. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel. I just want to drive the one that they gave me."

"Medicine," Benoit's seventh solo release on Telarc International, a division of Concord Music Group, joins two gifted guitarists. Released April 2011, the 11-track recording features seven new Benoit originals co-written with ace songwriter Anders Osborne.

"A friend of mine Anders Osborne, who is also a songwriter and musician, got together, went to my fishing camp and wrote a few songs," Benoit said. "Then we came back and recorded them. That's pretty much how it happened. It's whatever we're feeling at the time, we put it down and go."

Benoit's songwriting style can be compared to a family photo album.

"It's like taking pictures," Benoit said. "You take pictures and then record it. I take the moment that's going on right now and record it and then go back and look at it through sound."

Benoit has no setlist or set way of playing any show.

"I do requests when people yell out the song they want to hear," Benoit said. "I listen to the audience and put the moment in the crowd and I try to go with that instead of trying to make up the show on my own. I like the show and the audience to take me wherever it's going to go. It's a unique experience. Every show is a new adventure and this one will be no different."

More than just an bluesman, Benoit is a conservation advocate. He is the driving force behind Voice of the Wetlands, an organization working to save Louisiana's wetlands.

Benoit is currently working on the 10th Annual three day long music festival that takes place in his hometown, Houma, Louisiana the second weekend of October.

"It's a free event," Benoit said. "People come from all over the country to help and get in tune with what's happened. You don't hear anything in the news, only when there's a big disaster and every time there's a big disaster people scratch their heads wondering how can that be. Well, we're trying to show people how that can be. We try to encourage them to come down and have fun with us and get something done. It's a part of the life style here, you can still have fun and get something done at the same time."

To find out more about Tab Benoit and Voice of the Wetlands, visit tabbenoit.com.

Bob Burford, director of Kent Blues Fest, said this year's Kent Blues Fest will be bigger and better than before. There will be free live blues at 17 venues Friday.

"There is an extended lineup and we have some new venues joining the festival this year such as Bar 145 and Panini's," Burford said. "This will be our biggest festival yet. It's a pretty serious array of live music."

Burford said the thing people enjoy most about this festival is that it's free.

"People love that it is free and they also love to see so many artists on Friday," Burford said. "There is no cover charge and people can sample music they otherwise wouldn't see or listen to. I love the vibe it creates downtown Kent. We're brining people to Kent from all over to come out and check out the music, the new venues, our restaurants and stop in places that have nothing to do with Kent Blues Fest. We're excited to show off the city."

Tickets for Tab Benoit are $28.50. For more information, call 330-677-5005 or visit thekentstage.com

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