Name: Benjamin Booker
Where He’s From: New Orleans, LA
When He Started: 2012
Genre: Blues rock/punk
For Fans Of: Hurray For The Riff-Raff, R.L. Burnside, John Lee Hooker, The Gun Club
Sounds Like: A rowdy live set at a speakeasy, hidden deep in the swampland
Only 25 years young, New Orleans-based singer-songwriter Ben Booker plays blues rock with the finesse of a very old pro. It’s no wonder blues revivalist Jack White invited him on board his recent tour; Ben Booker takes after OG’s like Howlin’ Wolf in his gravelly vocal delivery and R.L. Burnside in his fiery guitar licks. Tinged with the moroseness of a Southern Gothic, his self-titled debut album paints pictures of sticky summer nights; bibles catching dust next to used syringes on coffee tables; cops eating the dust of teens barreling down country roads in hand-me-down pickup trucks. Although it should be said that Ben Booker’s music seems less about the outlaw life romanticized by blues songs of yesteryear, but more about giving nod to the involuntary, beleaguered societal outlaws of today.
In “Slow Coming,” Booker seethes as he recalls times when his elders fought for equality in the face of racism and other forms of prejudice. As he witnesses the same injustice being reproduced against a young girl shot while tying her shoelaces, or an immigrant boy being relegated to the fields, he appropriately drags his words like a tattered ragdoll at a child’s feet. ”Even though my phone predicts the weather,” he laments, “We still can’t help you. The future is slow coming.” Things pick up vastly in the heartrending song “Have You Seen My Son?,” betraying Booker’s affinity for a little punk rock. The band lunges itself into a dissonant uproar of cymbals and overdrive, culminating in a hardy, unyielding procession of groovy sludge.