The Fender Telecaster has been the older, clunkier brother of the Stratocaster for nearly 50 years. And while the sexiness of the Strat is suitable for Jimi Hendrix's atomic divebombs or Eric Clapton's elegance, the Teley fits nicely in the hands of workaday bluesmen like Albert Collins or Jimmie Vaughan (who, you might recall, had a younger brother with one of those newfangled Strats). In other words, the Telecaster is the guitar for the deep, ugly blues.
At first glance, Louisiana's Tab Benoit might seem an unlikely candidate for a bluesman, let alone a Teley-bluesman, since he's relatively young and very white. A listen to any one of his six CDs, though, will quickly persuade you otherwise. Armed with stocky, distortion-inducing licks, which are wrapped around his minimalist compositions, Benoit is more reminiscent of a chilled-out soulster like Collins than an acrobat like SRV. Like any self-respecting blues guitarist, Benoit also fronts his own band, injecting just enough grit into his otherwise youthful and restrained voice to make it sound authentic. -- Justin Wolske
Tab Benoit performs Saturday, December 4, at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8. Call (713)869-COOL for more information.