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Benjamin Booker

Sam D’Arcangelo | August 22, 2014

The Crescent City Challenge

The phrase “New Orleans music scene” usually conjures up images of late-night brass jams and second-line revelry, but that pigeonhole is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Enter Benjamin Booker, the latest in a long line of musicians to challenge the idea that the Crescent City is only good for jazz and funk. With his raspy vocals and aggressive, guitar-driven rock, the young performer, who released his eponymous debut album last month, takes more from The Black Keys or the Kings of Leon than he does from The Meters. “The scene that I found and the people that I’m friends with now—everybody is doing very different stuff,” says Booker. “I played maybe one or two shows and, after that, people just asked me to open for them. It helped a lot with building confidence—even if it was empty rooms.” Those rooms didn’t stay empty for long, as word of Booker’s prowess on the six-string spread across town and beyond. Within a few months of signing a record deal, he was already showing off his chops in front of a national audience on the Late Show with David Letterman. “It’s cool because you get to do a lot of fun stuff, but it’s also like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think we’d be doing all this so fast,’” says the guitarist. “Last November, I was working as a barista.”