Benjamin Booker’s Garage Blues Is Deferential to No One at Mountain Jam 2015
"I would listen to the radio if I liked songs produced by 40 year olds," sang Benjamin Booker at Mountain Jam this afternoon (June 6), splitting the difference with a voice somewhere between the growl of an octogenarian bluesman and the sneer of a teenage punk.
Booker's set was straight garage blues. He has a solemn and sometimes awkward stage presence, but rarely does it matter, because the music foregrounds all, dominated by the peeling riffs and overdrive of Booker's guitar and that voice, bluesy but not deferential to anything like gospel or roots, even when the band traded bass and drums for fiddle and mandolin on one tune.
Booker, never easygoing on stage, poured himself a beer before launching into "Happy Homes," a restless blues about a friend who roamed the streets and died in the gutter -- a deep-feeling lament that rocked with the restlessness of youth and also sees the senselessness of the world with a lucidity far beyond Booker's years.