Following his 2014 self-titled first album, Benjamin Booker just released a brand new record called Witness (the title track features the incredible Mavis Staples) and we were all out that night for this occasion. Having heard the album, I could tell he had grown as a writer and a listener. Despite the obvious maturity, I had listened skeptically the album because the first had had such fire behind it. However, I doubt Booker sees it that way because he brought it hard all night, seamlessly blending both the heavy-soul on the new and the wild-fuzz on the first.
As a killer guitar player with an equally talented backing band, Benjamin kept taking turns between guitar and simply being the frontman he is, by putting down the strings and wrapping that cord around his arms and neck just to bellow like a badass to a crowd hanging on his every raspy word.
Speaking of the crowd, I need to mention that I met a wonderful trio, standing front and center, that took a shine to me. The largest of the three began to ferry me back and forth to either side of the stage so I could get different shots. They made this show so easy to shoot and I wanted to say goodbye before I switched vantage points for photos. But of course, being front row myself and waiting for a pause in the set to speak, Booker hears me.
You know what happened.
However, I wound up going upstairs and meeting a large group of his friends from their days in Gainesville, FL. We finished out the show hanging and screaming over the railing to his first big hit “Shiver.” Afterwards, I got to see this guy treat his fans like family and his friends say he’s always been this way. The night truly finished out down the street at an after party he threw for his friends where Booker played DJ, bartender, as well as host and guest simultaneously.
There is a limitless energy and love to within this guy. Go take a listen or see a show and you’ll hear it.
Article: Kevin W. Condon