From: Tampa, Fla.
Soundalikes: With a voice as smooth as a sun-dried bone and riffs ripped from a Delta blues playbook, Booker sings like Ray LaMontagne and shreds with the intensity of Gary Clark Jr.
Influences: Booker’s “blues punk” mixes his young hardcore obsession with his later discovery of Blind Willie Johnson. “You listen to who they listened to, and you keep going further back until you arrive at the blues,” says Booker. “It’s like an evolutionary tree.” Co-signs Booker was recruited by Jack White as an opener on the strength of a self-released EP. ATO Records GM Jon Salter signed him after a YouTube clip convinced him to fly to Florida to see Booker play live. “You feel this energy around him,” says Salter.
Rough Patch: Dealing with a drug-addicted college roommate sent Booker into his own tailspin. “I felt like I was losing my mind,” he recalls. Booker started having auditory hallucinations, one of which inspired “I Thought I Heard You Screaming” on his self-titled debut, which hit No. 15 on Top Rock Albums on Sept. 6.
Plugging In: After struggling while playing acoustic sets around New Orleans and “making $800 a month” working at AmeriCorps, Booker pulled a Bob Dylan and went electric. “No one wants to watch someone sitting and playing acoustic guitar,” he says.