Ghost Town Blues Band
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About Ghost Town Blues Band
The Ghost Town Blues Band tout themselves as "not your grandpa's blues band," which is a way to convey that the Memphis-based collective accentuate their roots with funk, soul, New Orleans jazz, rock jams, and hip-hop. Their blues-based fusion combined with a dynamic live show helped the sextet build a following through the course of the 2010s, with the group gaining momentum toward the end of the decade as their 2018 album, Backstage Pass, and its 2019 sequel Shine both placed in the upper reaches of Billboard's Blues chart.
Led by guitarist/singer Matt Isbell and featuring his old high school friend Taylor Orr on lead guitar, Ghost Town Blues Band first came into view in 2008. Prior to that, Isbell had been gigging frequently as a rock guitarist, but around that time, he had the notion to form a band that was based in the blues but could explore outside its confines. One of the first musicians hired was Suavo Jones, a trombonist who helped underscore the group's debt to the Big Easy. Over the years, the lineup shifted quite often, but Isbell managed to persuade Orr to join toward the back half of the 2010s. The lineup solidified with drummer Andrew McNeill, bassist Matt Karner, and organist Cedric Taylor.
This wasn't the incarnation of Ghost Town Blues Band heard on either their 2009 debut or its 2012 sequel, Dark Horse, but it started to come into shape with 2014's Hard Row to Hoe. That album elevated their profile, as did their live shows which featured the band entering the stage as a second-line horn section. Soon, their fan base increased, as evidenced by the live Backstage Pass album went to number four on Billboard's Blues charts in 2018. A year later, they delivered the studio set Shine -- the lineup expanded to feature Kevin Houston on sax, as well -- and the record debuted at number one on Billboard's Blues chart upon its release in 2019. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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