Ghost Town Blues Band review…April 8, 2018….




We have reviewed more than 1100 albums within the pages of this humble forum, and the latest from one of our favorite groups, Memphis, Tennessee’s own Ghost Town Blues Band, “Backstage Pass,” has to be one of the most unique, good-time sets we’ve had the privilege to write about, recorded live in front of an amped-to-the-gills crowd at Lafayette’s Music Room in Memphis.

This band has many facets, and their live shows are legendary, and you get a taste of all of it over the course of this 65-minute program.  Matt Isbell not only makes cigar-box guitars, but he wields a mean one, and uses his whole arsenal herein. He’s on vocals and harp as well, with Taylor Orr on guitar and vocals, Suavo Jones and Kevin Houston on trombone and sax, respectively, Tim Stanek on keys, Matt Karner on bass, and Preston McEwen on drums.

You’ll get a good idea about what Ghost Town is all about from the opening salvo of Lennon’s “Come Together,” a slide-filled boogie romp with the horns gettin’ in on the fun.  It segues’ into a cool break of “Norwegian Wood,” before buckling down full-throttle into classic Zep with “Whole Lotta Love,” all in the span of six-and-a-half minutes!   Matt and Taylor’s original is next, where “Tip Of My Hat” blends cool, rhumba-rockin’ beats and killer piano over lyrics heavy with sly-and-sexy double-entendres’, where “you can play my organ and slide my big trombone.”  “Shine” pays tribute to the glory days of Stax in Memphis, while Tim has a good time with one of our favorites, beatin’ the keys eight to the bar with the lusty, busty tale of that rump-shakin’ “Big Shirley,” with a cool shout-out to Blind Mississippi Morris.  “One More Whiskey” is an ode to Matt’s whiskey-laden past, and is a definite crowd-pleaser, with Matt’s harp the guitars, and Suavo’s big long slidin’ thing riding this singalong for all it’s worth.

Our favorite simply could not be denied.  Matt’s pattern-switching bass lines, Tim’s B-3, and Taylor’s reverential guitar parts make the sixteen-minute tribute to The Allman Brothers and Southern rock history, “Whipping Post,” itself worth the price of admission.

Folks, the fellows in  Ghost Town Blues Band are sho’ nuff some mojo filters, and “Backstage Pass” blends all their elements, from the ABB to the Beatles, the Dead, to Phish, Stax, and virtually everything in between into one helluva good time!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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