Red Stick Sounds: Benjamin Booker at The Varsity

Photo of Benjamin Booker, courtesy of ShoreFire Media.

Benjamin Booker performs at The Varsity Thursday, April 23. Doors open at 8 p.m. The show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Benjamin Booker’s music is a reflection of his hometown of New Orleans — charmingly grimy, unpredictable and unruly, but always maintaining an undercurrent of class and tradition. Since recording some demos a few short years ago and signing with major label ATO Records, Booker’s voice has carried far beyond the Louisiana state lines.

Booker’s career went on the fast track in 2013 when Jack White heard some of his demos and tapped him as the opening act on a national tour. Later that year, Booker’s self titled debut earned high praise, followed by high profile performances at Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Newport Folk Festival and on the late night circuit.

Not bad for a young man who didn’t play his first live show until the summer of 2012.

Booker’s gravelly voice and distorted boogie guitar licks are something new and old, like a one-off party band comprised of Bo Diddley and The New York Dolls. The songs are steeped in gospel and blues, but are presented with a volume and relentless energy usually reserved for punk music. This is a can’t-miss show for anyone that likes rock music and appreciates it loud and straightforward.

Watch Benjamin Booker perform “Violent Shiver” on the Late Show with David Letterman below.