Any guy who can do two appearances at Sedgefield Blues in as many years is worthy of a mention on here, Anyone who can deliver such a quality set of original material with such ease and style is long overdue their own thread. To my detriment I missed him on the previous visit so knowing that he’s been doggedly craving out a solid reputation, this time I wasn’t going to let him slip by.
What can you say; armed with a couple of acoustics and a National Steel, this young guy can seriously pick out a rhythm and strong melody with the best of them. The voice is strong, gritty though not overly forced. His material, culled on Friday mainly from his most recent E.P. Songs from The Blue Door (grab it and it’s predecessor Road Sickness while/if you can) and an upcoming full album, is very much original but with due nods to influences such as Leadbelly and Tampa Red but with a more contemporary edge to Urban Blues. Sure, there are others ploughing a similar furrow, but often mire themselves down “in the mood” where Benjamin lifts this with some asides.
This particular love of the “retro” is reflected in Benjamin’s stage dress, probably to the approval of the “Blues Police”; he looks like he could thump Alan Ladd and run off with Veronica Lake in his 1940 Desoto. (I’m told though he has a Skoda…) This though is only a device to emphasise his blues roots; his material though framed in this style, is very much his own, and when listened to properly, the lad has a great stortteller’s style. I think there’s a new Blues genre coming through here; Ian Siegal & Jesse Davy flirted with it on a colaberation, Aynsley experimented with it recently, Il Grand Mafioso, but I think in terms of style and content, Benjamin has nailed it; I’m going to call it “Blues Noir”. (And copyright it with Steph though Straight Talkin’ Records before Henry Yates gets a sniff of it…)