By Dr. Shane Rasmussen, Director of the Louisiana Folklife Center
Louisiana Music Hall of Famer and Grammy nominee Tab Benoit will serve as Honorary Chair of the 40th Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival which will be held on July 26-27 in Prather Coliseum on the Northwestern State University campus. In addition to serving as Chair, Benoit will be inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center Hall of Master Folk Artists and will make several appearances at the festival.
“It is our honor to recognize Tab Benoit as an incredibly exciting musician, whose distinctive sound captures the vibrancy of Louisiana’s traditional culture,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the festival and NSU’s Louisiana Folklife Center. “This year’s festival theme – Vive la Louisiane! – is a celebration of how folk tradition is alive and well in Louisiana. It’s fitting that this year we should honor a musician of Tab Benoit’s stature, as he has inspired so many others to follow in his steps.”
Benoit is one of the foremost blues singers and guitarists in the world. Hailing from Houma, his music ranges in style but mainly focuses on Delta blues. Benoit has been playing the guitar since he was a teenager. As a regular at the Blues Box in Baton Rouge, he learned from many blues legends such as Tabby Thomas, Raful Neal, and Henry Gray. He has toured across the United States since 1991. His 2006 album “Brother to the Blues” received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Blues Album. On two occasions Benoit has been a recipient of the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award and Blues Music Awards Contemporary Blues Male Artist award, and in 2010 he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Benoit is also active in promoting the conservation of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, founding the “Voice of the Wetlands” organization, and receiving the Governor’s Award for Conservationist of the Year in 2010 for his efforts.
Benoit will appear at the welcome ceremony at 11 a.m. on Saturday July 27, when he and his fellow members of the 2019 Louisiana Folklife Hall of Master Folk Artists class will be inducted. Inductees will include Cajun musicians Jamie Berzas and Bruce Daigrepont, filé maker John Oswald Colson, and country musician Vanessa Niemann, all of whom will also participate in the festival.
In addition to his headline performance on Saturday evening, Benoit will also appear in two narrative sessions during the afternoon. In the first, “Tab Benoit: A Man and his Guitar,” Benoit will talk with fellow blues musician and Master Folk Artist Ed Huey about his experiences performing his distinctive Louisiana style blues around the world. In the second Benoit will discuss his environmental efforts with the Voice of the Wetlands Foundation.
The Southeast Tourism Society (STS) has named the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival as one of the STS Top 20 Events in the Southeast for July 2019. The family-oriented festival is wheelchair accessible. Children 12 and under are admitted free of charge. For a full schedule of events, to purchase tickets, or for more information call (318) 357-4332, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to louisianafolklife.nsula.edu.
Support for the festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., the City of Natchitoches, the Louisiana Division of the Arts Decentralized Arts Fund Program, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.