Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mainline Express with Jesse Brock at del Rossi's

MainLine Express featuring Jesse Brock delighted an audience of fifty or sixty post Thanksgiving survivors on Friday night at del Rossi's Tratoria in Dublin, NH.  Future performances this weekend will be at Nippo Lake Golf Club and Restaurant in Barrington, NH.  See below for more information.

del Rossi's Trattoria

We drove to Dublin, NH through a chilly rain and arrived at del Rossi's Trattoria early enough to settle in and enjoy a fine Italian dinner before the music event began.  Located on route 137 a mile or so north of route 101 between Keene and Peterborough, NH, del Rossi's presents fine acoustic music in a somewhat unusual setting.  Combining very good Italian food from a wide and varied menu in an eighteenth century farmhouse, Elaine and David del Rossi are also bluegrass and acoustic music lovers who feature fine acoustic music from the small stage located in a corner of their very pleasant dining room. Upstairs is a small shop selling acoustic instruments and supplies.  Irene had a perfectly prepared lasagna, while I enjoyed a diavolo misto on a bed of pepper linguini featuring luscious muscles and shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce.  The cream of garlic soup was also excellent.  Service was quick and friendly, and the food arrived hot and tasty.  All this offered a fine prelude for a first class bluegrass band put together for this off-season, but sounding seasoned as they played a broad range of classic bluegrass in the style of the Bluegrass Album Band.  Unfortunately, del Rossi's has no significant web presence to help with finding the restaurant or knowing more about menu choices.

MainLine Express

MainLine Express has been built around Jesse Brock, IBMA mandolin player of the year for 2009, whose full-time gig is with Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper.  Jesse's hyper-kinetic personality and driving mandolin style help push any band he's playing with to greater heights than it would have imagined possible. He combines impeccable playing with a sense of rhythm that pervades this band. 

Jesse Brock

Josh Dayton on bass took a while to find himself in this new gig, but really laid down the rhythm in the second set.  Dayton worked hard and rose to the ocassion.

Josh Dayton

Gary Filgate
With his wife, Alison Magill, Gary is the owner of Acoustic Outfitters in Straham, NH, the goto music shop for New Hampshire and northern New England. Filgate is an unobtrusive, quiet banjo picker, until you really start listening to his tasteful licks and fills as well as  his inventive breaks.  He brings imagination to his play, as evidenced by the tuneful setting with Roger Williams of the fiddle tune "Old Timey Risin' Down."

John Miller

John Miller, from southwestern Virginia, singing lead and playing rhythm and solo guitar, has strong background an experience.  Last year he played mandolin with Junior Sisk and Rambler's Choice after he replaced Chris Harris.  John has played with J.D. Crowe, Lonesome River Band, Charlie Sizemore, Valerie Smith and other bands.  He also owns and operates a recording studio and works as a luthier. 

Gary Pomerleau
Well known in New England as a French-Canadian fiddler specializing in folk and traditional music, Gary Pomerleau has, in recent years for his bluegrass fiddling, too.  On stage he projects a shy, quiet competence, until his turn for a break comes, whereupon the power and authority of his play shines through. He has been honored at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C. Locally, he plays with White Mountain Bluegrass.

Roger Williams
Roger Williams is a small, shy,  near-sighted man with a pixie grin on his face as he peers into your face.  It's when he puts his resonator guitar around his neck on stage that he becomes supremely articulate, a master of the rather strange, and somewhat quirky Dobro.  Williams has played and recorded with the best, and has made nine trips to Europe as a performer.  These days, his regular gig is with the very good country, bluegrass band Amy Gallitin and Stillwaters.  Roger's inventiveness and power on the Dobro is second to none, and he is well recognized among other musicians.  He deserves much broader appreciation from bluegrass and acoustic music fans.

MainLiner Express in performance shows itself to have the mysterious IT.  What qualities distinguish a band that has IT from one that doesn't?  This question devils many a band out on tour.  This band stands out because of its drive, energy, and musicianship.  Their performance on stage does not have the polish and finish you might find in some much showier and better known bands.  It exudes, however, the sheer joy of making music together...listening carefully, responding in kind, and underneath the friendly competitiveness that often pervades a first rate jam.  I don't know whether this band will be available for further performances once the winter hiatus ends, but all of us can only hope so.

LimeLighter Express will be appearing at Nippo Lake Gold Course and Restaurant in Barrington, NH on Saturday and Sunday, November 28-29. 

People wishing to hear very fine traditional bluegrass covers by a first rate pick-up band as well as enjoy a meal out after over-indulging in eating and shopping for the past few days will find the trip to Barrington, NH to be very worthwhile.  Barrington is about 28 miles east of Concord and 31 miles northeast of Manchester, and 20 miles west of Portsmouth.  Call ahead (603.664.7616) for more information and reservations.






Friday, November 27, 2009

Fiddler's Dream by Gregory Spatz - Book Review

Gregory Spatz is a professor of composition, a fiddler, a member of a bluegrass, band, and a previously published writer of novels and short stories, several of which have appeared in prestigious magazines. His novel, Fiddler's Dream benefits and suffers from his background and experience. The story presents an interesting and involving quest for father and for self-understanding of a young musician. Spatz, because of his background, is uniquely well-qualified to approach the topic and the character.

Nineteen year old Jesse Alison leaves his home in Vermont to test his bluegrass chops and search out his long missing father in Nashville. Behind him he leaves his seductive drunken mother and girlfriend Michelle, who never appears in the novel except as a brief sexualized image. As he drives towards his vision of the future in Music City, the reader is introduced to Jesse's musical gift and how it has been developed through those who took an interest in him – his female friend Genny, a luthier who fashions and repairs violins, and Dix, a faded guitarist who gives Jesse his first lessons, but is soon surpassed by his gifted student. Jesse drives west away from the cool, g(G)reen mountains of his home state and into the heat, whose reality is made palpable to any northerner who's tried to become comfortable in the South, but which stands as a metaphor for the heated musical environment of Nashville, too.

Jesse moves into the home and workshop of his friend Genny and must come to terms with her lesbianism while relying on her friendship to help him make inroads into the musical world of his adopted city. Spatz is perhaps at his best in describing the musical interludes of Jesse's education. A fiddler himself, who plays with west coast band John Reischman and the Jaybirds, Spatz captures the inner world of a musician moving from the skills he's gained listening to recordings into the super-heated world of session musicians and bluegrass wannabes that meet to play and drive each other to new heights in Nashville. His description of the fabled Station Inn, really the only reliable bluegrass performance venue and bar in Nashville, is spot-on as he presents the musical and social environment of this exciting local bar. His descriptions of Jesse's first experiences in daily jam sessions and a recording session also capture the environment, its competitiveness, and Jesse's anxiety that he might never measure up.

As Jesse gains increasing self-knowledge he reaches the point where he can leave Genny, although taking a piece of her with him, and continue his search for his father. His quest for his lost father and the knowledge that comes with it constitutes the remainder of this readable and enjoyable book. The themes of coming of age, the quest for father, and the search for self knowledge dominate the book. Spatz is at his best when describing Jesse's internal experience while making music, something only an accomplished musician can probably manage. Many musicians express themselves best through their music, Jesse is an example of this. He's a young man who's practically inarticulate verbally, but who expresses himself with intelligence and power in his music. Spatz, however, offers the unusual combination of being a musician who's a man of words. His descriptions, at least from the point of view of a reader/writer who doesn't have the music inside me, seem to capture the essence of what making music feels like from the inside, and I'm grateful to him for making that more clear to me.

The history of American novels of discovery is one of not successfully finding the ending. From Huck Finn's drifting down the Mississippi to Holden Caulfield's desire to rid the world of phonies, the story of American heroes is not to find all their conflicts and problems resolved, even as they complete their quests. Perhaps this is because the American story is still being told, so the search for meaning in our heroes cannot ever be fully resolved. Similarly, many of the questions raised by this novel are not resolved by the end. Nevertheless, Fiddler's Dream provides readers with a rich canvas of sensory and intellectual problems, while leaving enough up in the air to allow us to place ourselves and our own quests within the picture.

The book will prove interesting and satisfactory to the general reader, the bluegrass fan, and the person interested in learning about the internal experience of musicians. The novel should work well for the curious young adult as well as for adult readers. There is some explicit talk about sex and some profanity in the text. I might have categorized this interesting and well written coming of age tale as a problem novel of particular interest in that sub-genre known as Young Adult Fiction. However, because of content issues and the extensive and impressive description and internal monologue, the book is obviously aimed for the general adult reader of literary fiction. Spatz says, “...many of the book's themes and actions (not to mention its pacing) are not very kid friendly.” He welcomes young readers, but asserts that kids and young adults were not his audience. 
Fiddler's Dream by Gregory Spatz is published by the Southern Methdoist University Press, and can be purchased through their web site for $22.50. ISBN #0-87074-508-5. It's also available from the usual on-line sources. The book was provided to me for review purposes by the publisher.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MoJo and Nedski in Brattleboro, VT

Stephen Mougin and Ned Luberecki

Stephen Mougin and Ned Luberecki continued their two man tour at the New England Youth Theater on Saturday night to a solid and appreciative audience. This mini-tour by the two highly thought of Nashville sidemen is important for two reasons. First, it gives these two fine musicians a higher profile and introduces audiences to artistry musicians can't necessarily showcase while playing in someone else's band. Second, their tour, taking place as house concerts and in relatively small, our-of-the-way venues, suggests an alternative income source for musicians, particularly during the hiatus period of large touring bands. Their show was an artistic and personal success for both men. The Stockwell Brothers opened for them.

The Stockwell Brothers

The evening's event was opened by the Stockwell Brothers from nearby Putney, VT. The Stockwell's have been a part of the southern Vermont and broader New England bluegrass music scene for nearly 40 years, ever since emerging as teens from their Dad's tutelage. Barry, singing lead and playing rhythm guitar has a pleasant voice and a quiet, restrained Yankee personality as spokesman for the group. Brother Al on bass and mandolin helps fill the band's sound and adds versatility. His long, expressive fingers on the bass are worth more than a second glance. The real surprise, at least for people who've never seen or heard him pick, is brother Bruce on banjo. A retiring, almost reclusive, and deeply shy person, Bruce brings a level of versatility and vision to the banjo seldom seen at festivals or on stages, especially by those who insist on getting their bluegrass straight and traditional. While he is a great proponent of Scruggs and Crowe style bluegrass picking, his inventive stylings in songs ranging from Salsa to sixties folk, through jazz are outstanding. Sometimes he even seems to surprise himself as his fingers find new sounds that many have never heard from a banjo. Bruce Stockwell deserves much broader attention from the banjo playing world. Performing in a small, intimate venue where the audience was really listening to them benefited their performance enormously. No wonder many performers prefer theaters and auditoriums to festivals and bars!

Bruce Stockwell

Barry Stockwell

Al Stockwell

Mojo and Nedski

Ned Luberecki

Ned Luberecki and Stephen Mougin present a marvelous contrast in almost every way...and the combination works! Nedski is best known as a voice on Sirius/XM radio's Bluegrass Junction where he does daily stints spinning (What an odd word in these days where practically nothing spins. Does anyone have a good word for presenting 0s and 1s on the radio?) an always interesting mix of bluegrass as well as offering his cogent observations and notes from his broad experience. On Saturday nights he hosts a program called “Derailed” on which he plays a mix of progressive and newgrass music that can't be equaled during the rest of the Junction's week. On Sunday afternoons he teaches a weekly on-the-air banjo lesson, which has developed a rabid audience. In the banjo world, he is recognized as an innovative creative force who brings a wickedly inventive sense of humor and playfulness to his play. His song “Cabin of Death” is a hilarious presentation of the “perfect bluegrass song.” Other songs from Ned included the Byrd's “Hey Mr. Spaceman,” and his own “Nedscape Blues.”He is also widely recognized as a banjo stylist, perhaps best and most recently as second banjo on Tony Trischka's Double Banjo Spectacular tour and with Chris Jones and the Night Drivers in both the U.S. And Europe. 

Stephen Mougin


Stephen Mougin (known far and wide simply as MoJo) plays guitar with the Sam Bush band, providing exceptional rhythm guitar, hot, fast flatpicking solos, and always solid harmony vocals. He has had experience playing for Valerie Smith, Melonie Cannon, Jim Lauderdale, and Randy Kohrs. His excellent song writing and fine solo voice are almost unknown. Both deserve wider dissemination. Rich Mougin, his father, told me MoJo first picked up a mandolin when he was four, imitating his father on guitar. His skills improved rapidly and he began competing in contests. It wasn't until he was in middle school that his teachers discovered he had accomplished all he had by ear without ever learning to read music, an oversight that was quickly remedied. Stephen, who doubles effectively on guitar and mandolin, plays a very hot flat picking guitar (He's on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine this month) as well as excellent mandolin. His lead singing and harmony are both very effective. He has recently produced a pair of CD's featuring Russell Moore and Ronnie Bowman on the essentials of harmony singing. As a songwriter, often as co-writer with Jenee Fleenor, his songs are warm and heartfelt, reaching into the listener's core. Two songs of his presented at the performance celebrated a fellow teacher named Jenny who had choreographed the musicals Stephen directed as a public school teacher (Jenny Danced) and the grandmother, whom he had never met (Fedora's Hands), both deeply affecting numbers. In each song, his emotions were clearly very near the surface, and his honesty touched his audience deeply.

Stephen Mougin

Mojo and Nedski


Together, the duo plays off each others' strengths, presenting a varied performance of vocals and instrumentals as well as very pleasant interplay between their contrasting personalities. Their voices complemented each other well, and their musicianship was at the highest level of professionalism. Their tour, sponsored by Fishman Electronics and featuring the sound of the very effective SA 220 Solo Performance System, provides a delightful interlude during this slow musical season. They will be embarking on a western swing in December. Watch this space for more information soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Circles Around Me" by Sam Bush - CD Review

This review is an extended version of a review submitted to the Lonesome Road Review.
The opening guitar chords in Sam Bush's new CD “Circles Around Me” signal that this is a new turn in an old story. Sam Bush has produced a fine album of fourteen songs that return to an earlier era while forging into new territory. This is a neat trick, but Sam pulls it off with conviction and his customary high musicality. Sam uses his touring band of Scott Vestal, Byron House, Stephen Mougin, and Chris Brown to set and maintain the Bush sound while inviting a number of guests to share the microphone. Songs by Ebo Walker and an appearance by the late Courtney Johnson reach back to his days in New Grass Revival. Four songs exceeding six minutes in length suggest the importance of the jam in a Bush performance or recording. Three traditional songs and a guest appearance by Del McCoury recall the importance of straight ahead bluegrass music in Bush's music; the duo presents two Bill Monroe songs. All told, the CD communicates an elegaic tone in which Bush seems to be seeking to highlight and summarize his long, successful, and creative career.

Sam Bush

It often seems that at a certain age, Bush is 57, writers decide to look back at their careers and do some self assessment. These songs (or stories) are usually filled with regret, remembrance, joy, or some combination of these emotions common to people who have gained perspective and maturity. “Circles Around Me” introduces this CD and serves the purpose of opening the door of memory while leaving it open for still further growth and development. Albums often open with a bang, as if designed to grab and hold onto the listener. This song asks “how in the world did we get this far, holding tight to the tail of a shooting star?” Bush acknowledges the people and forces that have come into his life and suggests that those he's influenced through the years are “running circles around me now.” There's little if any regret to this refrain.

Scott Vestal

Chris Brown

“Diamond Joe” is listed in the liner notes as a traditional song arranged by Sam. It harkens back to earlier New Grass Revival songs as well as his more recent solo album, “King of My World.” The story tells of a cow puncher who signs on with Diamond Joe, a Texas rancher who “carried all his money in a diamond studded jar, and he never was much bothered, by the prices of the law.” The cowboy signs on and, of course, works hard for no advance, and “never saved a dollar, in the pay of Diamond Joe.” The song has a lilting feel to it as the singer catalogs the difficulties of the cattle drive and working for a hard taskmaster. This is a pleasing straight ahead bluegrass song that captures an earlier age and sound in bluegrass music.

Souvenir Bottles” by Brines, Cowan, and Bush is also a resurrected NGR song that fits perfectly into this CD. A bleak picture of road life uses a collection of bottles to recall bitter memories from road experiences, a “series of one night stands.” The longest song on the recording at over eight minutes, it gives free range for instrumental jamming without letting the instrumentals interupt the narrative of memory and regret. Vestal moves from a long elegaic melodic run into a series of virtuoso triplets before passing the lead to Bush, who reflects the melodies and cadences right back at him. It's easy to imagine the two great pickers standing eye to eye and toe to toe reacting to each other's work with eagerness and joy. The theme of age and youth in counterpoint comes from both the lyric, through the bottles, and the melodic line. Mougin, making his recording debut with Bush, as the older voice, captures the loss and desperation. 

Stephen Mougin

“You Left Me Alone” is an old Country Gentlemen song from the sixties written by Tom Gray and Jerry Stuart. Sam says he's playing a note-for-note reconstruction of John Duffey's mandolin play in this waltz. Scott Vestal's backup banjo behind Sam's voice is particularly interesting and strong as are his traditional sounding solos.

One of the most delightful elements of this album is the way Sam includes shades and shadows from his past in new and interesting ways. In his instrumental “Old North Woods” he has invited Edgar Meyer on bass as well as his wife Cornelia Heard, professor of violin in the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, and their son sixteen year old George making his recording debut to appears on the the cut, which Bush characterizes as “Monroe sounding.” Meyer's bowed bass creates an underlying mystery to the very traditional sounding new song. As in many of the cuts on this project, the sense of treasuring the past while looking forward permeates the song. He also includes a lost fragment of himself and the late NGR banjo player Courtney Johnson playing a lovely banjo-fiddle tune called “Apple Blossom” recorded in 1976.

Byron House

Story songs and murder ballads are an integral part of any well-designed bluegrass album. “The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle” fills the bill in spades on this CD. Written by Sam with Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson (this should be enough said, but I'll go on anyway), the song has a droning mountain sound, capturing the east Kentucky or Tennessee sound perfectly. Vestal's haunting banjo and Sam's keening fiddle sound create the tone of danger and mystery surrounding the Brown boys holdup and murder of Stingbean and Estelle on Ridgetop, Tennessee. “It was just a simple plan to rob a banjo man, but he wouldn't let go of his opry pay.” The song details the struggle for the “cash in his bib overalls.” The robbery leads to the shooting of both Stringbean and Estelle. The song is drawn from the real-life tale of the murder of Grand Old Opry Star David Akeman. This song deserves to enter the repertoire of murder ballads to be sung long into the future.

“Blue Mountain” is a Sam Bush original instrumental with a couple of great bass solos from the inimitable Byron House. One of four jam songs found on Circles Around Me, this one gives free range to all five members of this great band. While each member of the band is given plenty of room to shine, the piece never loses its ensemble feel and vibe. In our conversation, Sam took particular joy in highlighting members of the band and pointing out that this album features his current touring band. He particularly noted Chris Brown's always tasteful work on drums. It is particularly in evidence on this piece, notably because the drums are there, but never intrusive.

Sam and Del McCoury

Roll on Buddy” and “Midnight on the Stormy Deep” feature Sam's friend Del McCoury in reprises of two classic Bill Monroe tunes. They are done as straight ahead bluegrass songs, allowing McCoury's distinctive voice to shine through. When “Roll on Buddy” is compared to Monroe's 1937 recording with his brother Charlie, distinct differences emerge. Bush's picking is more disinct and a little slower, while Monroe's rapid double stopping always keeps the melody in the forefront. Bush willingly takes greater liberties with the melody while using fewer double stops. McCoury's falsetto on “Midnight on the Stormy Deep” captures Monroe to a tee.

Jerry Douglas does a guest Dobro stint on the Jeff Black's 2003 song “Gold Heart Locket,” a road song that suggests that the “only road home has all but washed away,” but the relationship symbolized by the locket can still be rescued. The risk of lost love and the power of commitment can still overcome the distance that the road can impose. The symbols of the rising river, the road washed away, the holes in the county road, crossing the river, and seeking reconciliation all weave their magic, held together by Douglas' Dobro. The song's text is ambiguous concerning whether the singer and his love object will succeed in finding common ground or not. 

The Sam Bush Band


Junior Heywood” is a Sam Bush and Edgar Meyer collaboration also featuring Jerry Douglas. Bush's plaintive mandolin, spare and melodic, combines with Meyers' distinctive bowed bass to create a sense of longing and searching. It serves as a thougful interlude within this CD. Ths song features just the three instruments, but nothing else is needed.

The CD concludes with “Whisper Your Name” by NGR mate Ebo Walker. It's a hard driving NGR song that brings the CD full circle, as in the title. It's followed by a surprise 15th song, “Hot Tamales and the Red Hots.” I can't find any information about this bonus track. It's a humorous and lilting song that brings the CD to a fitting conclusion, giving each member of the band a chance to shine one more time. (edit: One of my correspondents tells me this is a Robert Johnson song, and another reviewer comments, probably with good reason, that its inclusion signals ongoing exploration and development on Sam's part.) The bonus song stands as a kind of musical wink to Sam's fans. In recordings and in concerts, Sam Bush always plays at least one song by Bill Monroe and acknowledges Monroe's importance to his music. Bill Monroe was clearly a revolutionary innovator who Sam reveres for his contributions. He seems to be saying that he's one of many musical descendants of Monroe, and that his own contributions will certainly be surpassed by the next generation of mandolin pickers and bluegrassers. He says, “If I hadn't learned it from Bill Monroe, how could I have become what I have.” 

Sam and Scott Vestal


Some might suggest that this new CD forges no new ground. That would be a mistake. At the end of our conversation, Sam Bush remarked, “...the evolution continues, and it needs to.” This album is thoroughly contemporary and nostalgic at the same time, as it pauses to take a look at the past while forging forward into the future. Whether you download or purchase the physical CD, get it all and savor it in its entirety.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thompsonburg Road Opens for Tab Benoit - Red Fox Inn, Bondville, VT

Late on Wednesday afternoon we drove north through southern Vermont along routes 30 and 100 up the two lane road which once was the main drive for skiers heading to the mountains.  It's been a warm autumn and there's no snow on the ground.  The color is long since gone and as we pass through the villages of Newfane, Townsend, and Jamaica there's a feeling of anticipation.  Lawns are mostly raked and dead leaves have been removed.  Lights are beginning to go up for the holidays and shops are ready for the advent of winter tourists and skiers.  Ski rental stores and restaurants are nearly ready to open, but the sense that the region isn't quite ready pervades.  Killington Mountain, further north, may or may not open for Thanksgiving this season.  In Bondville, a small village located at the base of Stratton Mountain, one of the country's premier ski areas, we turn right just past the bank and wind up Winhall Hollow Road for about a mile and find the Red Fox Inn on the left.  We're early, and the parking lot is nearly empty, except for a large Prevost tour bus tucked neatly against the stone wall.  The building looks unprepossessing at first, but we enter through the beautiful barnwood door and move into the bar room, where a band is doing it's sound check. 

Red Fox Inn Irish Pub

Thompsonburg Road, a local cover band our son Alex plays in, is scheduled to open for Tab Benoit, whose bus is parked in the lot.  Three of the four members of Thompsonburg Road teach at the Stratton Mountain School, a prep school focused on developing skiers for college and international competition, which is nearby.  Opening for Tab Benoit is a big deal for this band.  The Red Fox turns out to be a delightful venue for live music as well as a good restaurant.  The upstairs dining room, not yet open for the season but featuring a huge fireplace and high, old rafters, looks as if it will be warm and inviting once the season begins. The menu offers bar foods, hot snacks and full meals.  My appetizer portion of steamed muscles in a hot tomato broth was delicious.  Irene's cheese steak sandwich was assembled using a home made roll, and band member Brett's chicken pot pie looked excellent.  Check out the Red Fox's tavern menu here.  The restaurant menu will be posted once the restaurant re-opens for the winter season.  The Red Fox offers a broad variety of live entertainment, including Irish night on Wednesdays, a weekly jam on Thursdays, and scheduled bands during the summer and ski seasons.

Restaurant Dining Room

Tavern Bar

Thompsonburg Road is composed of  Mike Mallon on bass, Bret Hines on drums, Eric Johnson on guitar and vocals, and Alex Lehmann on guitar and lead vocals. They play a mix of rock and punk covers with enthusiasm and skill.  Their beat is strong and vocals in tune with a solid drive that communicates well with their audience.  Their show has attracted friends and supporters from among the SMS faculty, alumni, and parents as well as a larger group of people there to here Tab Benoit, who has a national reputation and is on a northeastern tour. As the show begins, the staff of the hotel takes up the tables and most of the chairs to make room for the expected crowd and provide plenty of space of dancing.  While Benoit is the obvious draw, the audience responds very positively to Thompsonburg Road and even breaks into some dancing.

At Dinner

Thompsonburg Road

Mike Mallon

Bret Hines

  Eric Johnson

Alex Lehmann

Audience for Thompsonburg Road

Tab Benoit

Tab Benoit is a hard driving bluesman and cajun-rock guitar player who comes from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has honed his chops in road houses in his home state, across the south, and, now, throughout the nation.  He has a soulful voice perfectly attuned to his genre, and is a first rate stylist.  Alex commented, "I watched Benoit for a couple of hours; great, fast, clean guitarist; nice voice, great groove with his drummer and bassist. A mix of cajun blues, country, country-blues, and sort of funky dance blues.  Good stuff, enthusiastic crowd.  Promoter Tom Logan and his daughter have used their New Orleans blues connections well to bring a performer of Benoit's quality to rural Vermont, especially out of high season.

Tab Benoit

Doug Gray

Gary Duplashis


The Scene

Sandra Lehmann




If you get a chance, check out the Red Fox in Bondville, VT and see Tab Benoit on tour at a venue near you.  If you're lucky, you'll get to see Thompsonburg Road, too.