Benjamin Booker Gives a Little Feedback

Benjamin Booker, born in Virginia, raised in Florida, now based in New Orleans, draws extensively on a rich Southern heritage of blues, stomp, and early rock and roll, to influence his own fuzzy garage rock. His self-titled debut album (released on ATO records) just went on sale this month, but Mr. Booker has already gained legions of fans, including those who have seen him touring with like-minded rocker Jack White.

Photo: Max Norton

Hey, this is Benjamin Booker, and I just had an album come out. It’s my first album, and here is my dinner party soundtrack.


“Stoned & Starving” – Parquet Courts

My first song would probably be “Stoned & Starving” by Parquet Courts, because if I’m having a dinner party, people need to come starving.

Parquet Courts is a New York band that originated in Texas. I guess they’ve been described sometimes as ‘cowpunk,’ but it’s just guitar rock. Like, amazing guitar rock. They’ll have a really catchy groove going on, and then just break out into ruckus-y noise.

I mean, I guess I’ve had this problem before with my choices [of songs] for dinner parties; that maybe they’re, like, a little too heavy.  But, you know, this is my party, I’m picking the songs, and they gotta deal with it!  And if this is before we’re eating, I think it’s okay. I think it’s fine to have a little feedback.


“Any Other Way” – Jackie Shane

Song number two is “Any Other Way” by Jackie Shane, and I’m choosing the “Live in ’63” — I believe it is — version.

Jackie Shane is an R&B singer from Toronto, who used to wear women’s clothing, and dress up. Like, this black soul-singer cross-dressing guy.  And it’s the most incredible stuff that you’ve ever heard.

I don’t think people know very much about this guy, and that’s what makes it so crazy. It’s like, what was happening in Toronto that you have this guy who’s doing stuff that’s completely taboo in the early ’60s? Where does he come from? I don’t know — you tell me.  You tell me!

This is the part where we’re having food. It’s good background music, you know: soft, but also entertaining. People might stop eating for a second and be like, “Oh, what is this?” And I’ll be like, “Oh, it’s Jackie Shane.”


“Why Go to War” – William Onyeabor

This is the last song. Song number three is William Onyeabor, “Why Go to War.”

He’s this very enigmatic character. Apparently, he had gone to film school or something in Russia — he’s from Africa. Came back to Africa with all of these keyboards and stuff like that, and just started making ridiculous, wild synth music. He was doing stuff that a lot of people couldn’t do because he was somehow independently wealthy for some reason, and he was the only person in Africa who had this kind of equipment.  So he incorporated this ’70s dance music with some African stuff, and it’s really cool stuff.

At the end of the party, you know, some people might be dancing, but also people are getting to know each other… maybe they’re talking a little bit.  The song’s an anti-war protest song, but also a dance song, so maybe while those people are dancing, the other people are talking about politics. You know, you gotta get everybody happy at the end — some people don’t like to dance. I’m not a dancer.


“Have You Seen My Son” – Benjamin Booker

If I had to pick one of my own songs for a dinner party, I would probably pick “Have You Seen My Son,” just because it’s got a few different parts in it — some slower, but also some upbeat, wild, freak-out moments. I think it’d be cool. It’d be interesting to see what people think.