Benjamin Booker: A Look Inside His Old Soul

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Image courtesy of management.
Singer and guitarist Benjamin Booker's signature 'Tent City Rivival' sound is what hipsters play to their children instead of lullabies. Booker's gravelly voice evokes a chipper Tom Waits with the timeless vocal simplicity of Bruce Springsteen (had The Boss been raised on the Bayou, not Long Branch). So you could imagine our surprise when a soft-spoken voice greeted us from New Orleans, prior to our phone interview.

Tampa, Florida-native Booker fell in love with New Orleans while working for Americorps' Hands On New Orleans program. The demo he recorded there on a shoestring budget, intended only for friends, landed in the right hands on the Internet. Now, Booker is opening for Jack White prior to even releasing a proper studio album.

Benjamin Booker will be performing on August 21 at The Echo and August 24 at FYF. His debut, self-titled album, Benjamin Booker drops August 19. We spoke with the soulful 25-year-old to discuss his red-hot career and the Plan B he'll never have to follow.

OC Weekly (Jena Ardell): Your career seems to be growing exponentially. How long have you been performing?

Benjamin Booker: I started doing shows in New Orleans in 2012 and I did that for a year and then I went back to Florida for a few months and found a drummer and while we were in Florida, a label approached me. Before I came to New Orleans, I just recorded a few demos and put them online and I just they got picked up by a blog in Los Angeles and I started getting emails and phone calls. That's just how, I guess, things started moving.

How does it feel to be chosen to open for Jack White?

I was in New York when they told me that we were doing the shows. The first album I bought was the White Stripes Elephant album when I was 13. It's cool to play with somebody that you looked up to when you were so much younger.

How different does your music sound from your original EP?

The EP was acoustic. I thought I would need to change the songs around a lot once we started playing electric, but they haven't really changed very much. It's just been more energetic. I hated playing acoustic shows. I dunno, it's just nice to have people dancing finally.


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