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Blues legend Tab Benoit strums, sings at Three Stages in Folsom

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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FOLSOM CA - It?s not every day Folsom hosts a blues legend, but that?s about to change when Tab Benoit rolls in to town for a one-evening-only appearance on Friday, May 25. Direct from New Orleans, the sought-after performer just snagged awards for Best Contemporary Male Artist, Best Album, and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award during the 33rd annual Blues Music Awards last week. His fistful of new awards is no surprise to publicist Kelly Johanns-DiCillo. ?In the blues world, he?s key,? she said. ?He?s a real music great ? a great voice and killer on the guitar. He?s one of the staples of the blues genre, and in rock-blues, as well.? Awards are nothing new to this long-time performer. In 2007 he won Blues Music Awards? Best Contemporary Male Artist, the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, and also the 2010 Governor?s Award for Conservationist of the Year, and a 2009 award from the Louisiana Wildlife Foundation. It?s obvious, given his environmental activism (he has made preserving the endangered Delta wetlands his personal crusade) that both Delta and blues are in his blood. A master of many musical genres, Benoit rarely strays from his Cajun roots. ?He always releases music around the time of the Jazz Festival in New Orleans,? Johanns-DiCillo said. But whenever he steps up to the microphone, his trusty brown and cream guitar in hand, people love to listen. A rich voice, just the right blend of soothing melancholy with a touch of gravel on slow numbers; frantic fingering and thrilling cadence on fast tracks, fans can?t get enough. ?He?s very New Orleans. Everyone loves him,? Johanns-DiCillo said. ?He?s a vibrant performer; his following is really solid.? Johanns-DiCillo ex-plained that Benoit really plays to the crowd on a personal level. ?He often asks the audience what they would like to hear, and he?ll play it for them, so his show is really different each and every time,? she said. ?People come out, they dance, and they definitely buy his records.? Mary Carrera, with Carrera Productions, was thrilled to get Benoit to Three Stages in Folsom. ?I tried to book Tab four of the last five years, but he was always booked up,? Carrera said of trying to snag Benoit for Coloma Blues Live, an event that she began in 2005. ?Tab hasn?t been in this area for a long time, but this time, the stars were all aligned.? Carrera said Benoit is traveling through California, appearing in the Bay Area, and Southern California, so the timing was perfect. ?He?s a phenomenal song writer and blues artist ? he?s one of my favorites,? she said. ?As I was watching Three Stages be built, Tab was on my mind. I knew I was going to find a way to get him there.? Carrera explained her love for Blues. ?Blues is the root of every kind of music out there now, and it?s an art form that isn?t really put in front of children today. We need to preserve the blues, or it could go away,? she said. The evening will begin with one of Northern California favorites, Mumbo Gumbo, a group that offers a unique blend of Zydeco, folk, blues, and more. Part of the evening?s proceeds will benefit the Sacramento Blues Society?s Blues in the Schools, and the Folsom Lake College Foundation. * * * KNOW AND GO What: An Evening with Tab Benoit When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 25 Where: Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Tickets: $20-$40 Info: Threestages.net, Tabbenoit.com