You may not have noticed, but a Providence-based band is at the top of the music charts. (No, we’re not speaking of that part-time Westerly resident named Taylor.) We’re talking about the hard-driving Blues trio GA-20.
I spoke to Matt Stubbs, lead guitarist and co-founder of the band last week as he was on his way to join legendary bluesman Charlie Musselwhite at a show in Chicago. Stubbs is a true road warrior, squeezing in dates with Musselwhite while on a brief break in GA-20’s busy touring schedule.
He’ll be back in town later this week when GA-20, named for a legendary Gibson amplifier popular in the 1950’s and 60’s, plays a hometown show at the Narrows Center in Fall River on Friday.
The band is a power trio, with Stubbs and Pat Faherty on guitar and vocals, and Tim Carman on drums. Their latest album, Crackdown, released in September, debuted at #1 on the iTunes and Billboard Blues charts, topping the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, and the Rolling Stones. No doubt, they are one of the hottest blues bands on the scene right now.
“Crackdown was the follow-up to our first record Lonely Soul,” explained Stubbs. “We were getting ready to release it in 2020, it was all done ready to go and then everything shut down. So we thought it was probably a smart idea to hold off on releasing it, we wanted to make sure we could tour behind it, and do proper promo. Like everybody, we didn’t know what was going to happen in March 2020.”
While they were waiting out the pandemic, the band recorded an EP that was released in 2021 to widespread critical acclaim. “During that time, Bruce Iglauer, the owner of Alligator Records, hit us up to do a record with them, but we were under contract with Coalmine Records. So I cooked up the idea to get both those labels to work together, and we recorded the Hound Dog tribute,” said Stubbs. That album, GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It…You Might Like It! also reached #1 on the charts.
A year later, Crackdown is finally out. Recorded mainly in Providence, the album is a fuzz-filled, high-energy collection of mostly original songs that rock. The album may be officially categorized as Blues, but the sound will definitely appeal to a wider audience… think Black Keys, White Stripes, or Gary Clark, Jr.
“Crackdown is our interpretation of traditional blues, Lonely Soul was more Chicago Blues, this has other influences that got in there. We were listening to a lot of country music at the time and some garage rock, so it’s more on the edges of traditional Blues, compared to the other two records we made,” explained Stubbs.
“It’s on a lot of AAA (adult album alternative) and Americana stations right now, which is nice and the Blues community seems to like it too. All the reviews have been great,” noted Stubbs.
“We love Blues music and that’s why we started the band, but we also want to bring this music to people that might not know they like Blues. They might have their idea of what Blues is, but maybe they’ve never listened to traditional Blues. Maybe they’ve only listened to more modern or British rock Blues,” added Stubbs.
The band has been well-received on tour, even among audiences who don’t know them.
“We were just out for five weeks with two bands from our label, Kendra Morris and The Monophonics, neither one of those are Blues bands they’re more like Soul bands, psychedelic soul. We were obviously the outliers on that tour being a Blues band, but it was great. We were playing rooms of 300- 500 people a night. We had a lot of fans there, but many people didn’t know who we were going into it. We won them over by the end of our set,” said Stubbs.
Expect a great show Friday at the Narrows Center. Jonah Tolchin opens at 8PM.