Benjamin Booker

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Benjamin Booker - I’d Rather Go Blind

A couple months ago Benjamin Booker and I strolled around the back streets of the Marigny in New Orleans, sweating our balls off, eating crackhead po boys, climbing over fences and managed to come back with some photos that Garden & Gun Magazine has splashed across a few pages in their newest issue, on newsstands now.

Photo © Jim Herrington

I know the difference between right and wrong and I couldn’t understand how these issues I was reading about in books about the 1950s, from people like James Baldwin, could still be unresolved. Of course gay marriage should be legal everywhere. Of course anyone who comes to this country for a better life, who has something to contribute, should be accepted. Of course there is no reason for a black kid growing up in Florida to get a cross burned in his yard or get pulled over nine times in a year for nothing.
—  Benjamin Booker on his new short film, which places the songs “Slow Coming” and “Wicked Waters” within the history of the African-American struggle for civil rights
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Benjamin Booker - Have You Seen My Son (2012)

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The first few seconds of Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut album sound like old-school blues guitar. “Violent Shiver” opens with bright, jagged strumming, slides down the neck, powerful if inelegant technique. You can hear Muddy Waters and B.B. King and Chuck Berry in it, and assume that this will more or less replicate those classic forebears or rip on vogue blues rockers like the Black Keys.

But then the song takes off like a rocket, with Booker shredding his voice to bits as if Kurt Cobain had a side project with the rhythm section of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The 25-year-old Booker may play music rooted in the blues, but he’s no imitator. He’s created something more modern, urban and streamlined — a blues-meets-punk sound that’s a welcome update to a field tired of shoddy rewrites.

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THIS IS THE BEST EVER