Artist spotlight: Howlin’ under the desert skies with traveling bluesman Tom Bennett

Bluesman Tom Bennett howling like a coyote during a set of Paper Jams at the Canyon Media offices, St. George, Utah, Oct. 26, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

FEATURE — Traveling from one side of the country to the other playing over 330 shows a year, some would think one-man-band Tom Bennett would feel like he’s a prisoner of his own talent, but actually, he said, “it’s a way that allows you to be free.”

Bluesman Tom Bennett strums his Fender Resonator during a set of Paper Jams at the Canyon Media offices, St. George, Utah, Oct. 26, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

On tour pretty much every day for the last five years with his Fender Resonator that “does the trick,” Bennett has been almost everywhere in the United States, from the steps of the U.S. Capitol, up to the Great Lakes region and down to the smallest bars in the Texas Panhandle.

“It’s cool. I just pick a place I want to go and work my way there and back and have a lot of fun,” Bennett said. Even so, he says the deserts of Southern Utah now hold permanent claim to his heart and home.

“I like getting out in it — camping and exploring it,” he said. Along the way, he’s howlin’ like a coyote, as he does in the title track of his forthcoming album, a song he wrote for the love of his life, Bekah, about his courtship with her in St. George.

Sharing his love for the road and music, she is currently out with him promoting his new album on their “Desert Sands to Georgia Clay Tour” — aka the baby bump tour — rocking their way to see family in his hometown before their new baby girl arrives at the end of January.

Bluesman Tom Bennett howling like a coyote during a set of Paper Jams at the Canyon Media offices, St. George, Utah, Oct. 26, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Bennett’s lifelong passion for country blues was born back home in the hay fields, five miles west of Atlanta on a farm called Eagle Crest after receiving his first harmonica from a family friend on Christmas. It was a simple gift, but it spawned a lifelong passion for playing that landed him an endorsement from Lee Oskar Harmonicas a few years back and now is key part of almost every tune.

His music, a combination of dobro slide guitar, foot-stompin’ suitcase beats, tambourine jingles and pure harp funk, isn’t just for slapping knees and smiling; it spins a yarn about humanity and opens a window into the soul of a man cast by the hard life on the road. Although occasionally sneaking in a popular cover song in to get the crowd warmed up, 90 percent of the songs he plays are written about his experiences.

He has three albums already under his belt, including “The Man Who Shook the Trail of the Devil’s Hounds,” a live album recorded in Colorado, and a three-song EP titled “I am Everywhere” that won the Best of Utah award in 2017.

Written lyrics by Bluesman Tom Bennett, used during a set of Paper Jams at the Canyon Media offices, St. George, Utah, Oct. 26, 2018 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Even with a substantial discography, Bennett says he is still never satisfied and is constantly creating new work. His latest effort has been recorded and is currently being mixed and mastered by his good buddy Dave Durrant at the Bat Kave in Toquerville. “You Make Me Want to Howl” is set to be released early 2019.

Three times a year, Bennett heads up to Seattle and back to complete the full-range of the country touring. But now as a local, soon-to-be father and founder of the Colorado City Music Festival held in April, he may be around town a bit more.

“I like the southwest, so I spend most of my time out there. We go to a lot of reservations and visit with Native American tribes and just learn about their culture,” he said. “I love the desert.”

The best way to reach Bennett and find out more information about his upcoming shows is by checking out his Tom Bennett Country Blues Facebook page or Instagram profile.

Email: apinckney@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @andrewjpinckney

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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