Benjamin Booker returns to New Orleans for back-to-back shows

Laura Rostad, Associate Arcade Editor

New Orleans-based Benjamin Booker’s bluesy punk rock has thrust him into the spotlight during the last year. Since the release of his self-titled debut album in August, he has jammed with the likes of Jack White and earned a headlining tour.

It doesn’t seem like anything can hold him back. Not even catching strep throat in the midst of a hectic tour schedule can slow down the guitar prodigy.

“Coachella was this past weekend, so I couldn’t really cancel that,” Booker said with a laugh.

Booker’s tour stops at plenty of other big-name festivals as well, like Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. He will take a break from his busy string of shows to return to New Orleans for a two-night stint. He will play at 8 p.m. April 24 and 25 at One Eyed Jacks.

The Florida native moved to New Orleans in 2012 to take a job working at the nonprofit HandsOn New Orleans. Though he had written a few songs prior, he didn’t really start taking his music seriously until he came to New Orleans.

“As soon as I moved I met a bunch of bands and everyone was really supportive,” Booker said. “I was writing more songs and playing as often as I could. It definitely had an impact on me becoming more active.”

Booker was familiar with the music of the Big Easy, but once he arrived he received a crash course in the city’s storied music history.

“There’s definitely a lot of New Orleans music that I found out about from listening to WWOZ and just going out,” Booker said.

Booker’s self-titled debut breezes through passionate punk rock choruses, like “Violent Shiver,” to slow, acoustic ballads, like “I Thought I Heard You Screaming.” Whether he’s sounding frustrated and confused or sultry and contemplative, Booker’s gravelly vocals never fail to provide a strong sense of emotion behind his personal lyrics. The real strength of his album is the fluid combination and altering tempos and styles, like in “Spoon Out My Eyeballs” and “Kids Never Growing Older.”

Booker draws on inspiration from everyday life but doesn’t have a fixed structure for writing songs.

“There’s not one set way to write a song,” Booker said. “It just depends on what’s happening around me. Sometimes it’s lyrics first. Sometimes it’s music first. It’s different every time.”