Saturday ACL Fest Interview: Benjamin Booker

3pm, Miller Lite stage

Photo by Gary Miller

“I lived in the South all my life,” reflects blues-punk juggernaut Benjamin Booker. “I lived in Virginia, Tampa and Gainesville, Florida, and New Orleans. I spent my whole life in the South until recently, when I moved to California.”

What made the 28-year-old live fireball decide to finally move away?

“The South, yeah,” he laughs. “You travel around and see other ways to live, and I wanted to try that. So, I moved to California. I definitely miss the South, though, and I do plan on coming back.”

It’s important to note Booker’s Southernness, his distinctive and rootsy drawl. In fact, T. Rex, whose rockin’ whimsicality perfumes a chunk of Booker’s sophomore LP Witness, were from South London.

“When I was in college, Electric Warrior was one of the only records I had,” he shoots back. “We listened to it a lot. That record is just electric blues, y’know? When you listen to the chord progressions and the melodies, it’s just blues music that’s glammed up.”

Hardly glammed-up is the title track to Witness, a secular-gospel Civil Rights anthem, complete with Mavis Staples’ glorious vocal cameo.

“We couldn’t have found a more perfect person to sing it,” he says. “One of the things that was inspirational was the Staple Singers. Albums like Freedom Highway, you hear the work that they’re doing during the Civil Rights movement. So I was just trying to turn people on to people like Mavis, who’s always been working toward social justice issues.”

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Benjamin Booker
Saturday ACL Fest Record Reviews
Benjamin Booker
Witness (ATO/Rough Trade)

Kahron Spearman, Oct. 6, 2017

ACL Music Fest 2014 Saturday Reviews
Benjamin Booker

Doug Freeman, Oct. 3, 2014

More by Tim Stegall
The Riverboat Gamblers' <i>Something to Crow About</i> Turns 20
The Riverboat Gamblers' Something to Crow About Turns 20
The album that made Austin's apex punks earns anniversary vinyl remaster

Aug. 11, 2023

Remembering Teresa Taylor, Stand-Up Butthole Surfers Drummer With a Memorable Role in <i>Slacker</i>
Remembering Teresa Taylor, Stand-Up Butthole Surfers Drummer With a Memorable Role in Slacker
The Texas percussionist and “Madonna Pap smear girl” has died at 60

June 20, 2023


Benjamin Booker, ACL Fest 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle