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Ghost Town Blues Band: Backstage Pass

C. Michael Bailey By

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One of the perks to living in Little Rock is its close proximity to the center of the rock music universe. No, not Cleveland, Alan Freed or not. Memphis, Tennessee! Did Chuck Berry write a song about Cleveland? No. Being close to Memphis means being close enough to go a see local bands the likes of Low Society and The Ghost Town Blues Band, the latter who have released a recording, taped (or digitized) live at Memphis' famous Lafayette's Music Room located in Overton Square on 2119 Madison Avenue. Even sixty-plus years after EP entered Sun Studios, one can still hear that dusty Delta shit in the music. It is part of the culture and ecology.

The principal investigator of GTBB is one Matt Isbell, Memphis musician, slide and cigar box guitar maker. There is much to learn from social media. Mr. Isbell shares my love of the blues, slide guitar, 1970s rock, and my Southern Catholic Heritage (rare as hen's teeth). He displays all in his performance. Isbell and company are not even out of the chute when they play the Beatles' "Come Together" mixed with Led Zep's "Whole Lotta Love." But that is only the beginning. Isbell likes to sprinkle the '70s pixie dust thick. The GTBB is a dirty and gritty group with a horn section (low brass -more New Orleans than Memphis) who spice up originals like "Tip of the Hat" and "Shine" with just the right Mid-South sauce that is neither Texas, Missouri, or Piedmont. "Big Shirley" perks along until the group breaks into LZ's "Rock and Roll" setting all on fire. That is followed by the sure indicator that Isbell has the biggest balls in the South with his cover of "Whipping Post" presented as a slow river groove that simmers. Many are the charms of this recording.

Track Listing: Come Together; Tip of My Hat; Shine; Givin’ It All Away; Big Shirley; Whipping Post; I Get High; One More Whiskey; I Need More Love.

Personnel: Matt Isbell: lead vocals, guitars; Taylor Orr: guitar, vocals; Suavo Jones: trombone, vocals; Kevin Houston: saxophones, vocals; Tim Stanek: keyboards; Matt Karner: bass, vocals; Preston McEwen: drums.

Title: Backstage Pass | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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