Friday, September 02, 2022

Concert review: Tab Benoit and JD Simo showcase guitar histrionics at The Coach House

Who: Tab Benoit, JD Simo

Where: The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA

When: Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022

Next: Benoit and Simo perform at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Sept. 4; they perform together at Felton Music Hall in Felton, CA on Sept. 5; and at The Sofia in Sacramento, CA on Sept. 6

Information: and

Review by Robert Kinsler

Photography by Bob Steshetz

Tab Benoit performing at The Coach House.

Based on how early the capacity crowd filled The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday night (Sept. 1, 2022), the world still loves a great guitar hero. The good news for concertgoers who came to the legendary venue last night was they got to see two guitar masters on the same bill.

Tab Benoit, on left, performing at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

Grammy-nominated headliner Tab Benoit and opener JD Simo each brought a wealth of talent to the stage, with the Houma, Louisiana-born Benoit and Nashville-based Simo both having the benefit of being armed with winning lead voices along with their respective roles as guitar greats (they also each happened to be backed by a tight two-man rhythm section).

Tab Benoit at The Coach House.

Benoit's 100-minute set flew by thanks to his arresting personality and a slew of great swamp and Southern-flavored electric blues played with unbridled power. Opening with the infectious and driving "Why Are People Like That?" from his 2006 album Brother To The Blues. Benoit's fiery and sharp guitar work elevated the uptempo blues rocker.

Among this writer's favorite offerings were his cover of Buddy Miller's "Shelter Me," a fully reworked Delta take on the Buffalo Springfield classic "For What It's Worth," Cajun rocker "We Make A Good Gumbo" and the playful "My Bucket's Got A Hole In It," the latter showcasing Benoit's soulful lead vocals.

Tab Benoit, far left, brought guitarist JD Simo to the stage for his encore.

Benoit and his band played the roaring "Night Train" as an encore, with Simo joining the trio on stage and unleashing some stylish slide guitar work early in the 10-minute cut. Benoit unleashed his lead guitar work as well, helping propel the Southern rocker to a dramatic close.

JD Simo, on the far left, performing with his band at The Coach House.

Simo brought a more experimental approach to the night, with his far-flung work bridging several styles of blues and rock to a 30-minute set.

JD Simo at The Coach House on Sept. 1, 2022.

His selections ranged from the beautiful "One Of These Days" 
 with Simo's falsetto vocals recalling the late Curtis Mayfield  to the decidedly experimental "That's When You Know When You're Down" influenced by Captain Beefheart, and the set-ending heavy rocker "Know It All" (the latter from his latest album Mind Control) serving as a platform for Simo's incredible lead guitar dynamics.

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