Recent releases featuring music from a couple of albums planted firmly in the roots music spectrum with the common denominators being the guitar and an affinity for the blues occupy the Ear Bliss spotlight this week. Boston-based trio GA-20 is a relatively new entity on the blues music front and has just released its debut album called Lonely Soul. It is an album of heavy-fisted blues in the 1950s and ‘60s style with plenty of punch. On the flipside is the incredible guitar picking of folk artist Charlie Parr as found on his new self-titled album, his 15th overall. Parr is a wizard of the of the strings in the fingerpicking style on acoustic guitar. He also happens to be a highly talented songwriter. Each of those qualities are in full focus on his latest longplayer. Let’s get to it.
Karma Chief Records
The band GA-20 is a Boston-based trio whose core members (and founders) include Matthew Stubbs on guitar and Pat Faherty on lead vocals and guitar along with drummer Tim Carman. Of the three, Stubbs’ name is likely the most recognizable. Credit that to his being somewhat of a regular on the Providence music scene with his band Matthew Stubbs & the Antiguas with South Street watering hole Nick-a-Nee’s a frequent haunt to perform. Yet, it his lead guitar work with the legendary Charlie Mussselwhite that has truly put him on the blues ax radar. Along with Flaherty, the roots of GA-20 can be traced back to the Fall of 2017 and a shared love of blues ala the aforementioned Musselwhite and also early rock and roll. When you get right down to it, early rock & roll was spawned by the blues with cats like Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner and His Kings of Rhythm band (who were Brenston’s backing band), Elmore James and Earl Hooker, each and every one delivering plenty of womp with the blues stomp. That is exactly what GA-20 serves up on its debut recording called Lonely Soul. Released on Karma Chief Records which is a spinoff label of rising soul imprint Colemine Records, the passion of the GA-20 trio for the electric blues of the 1950s and ‘60s runs all through the grooves of the cuts comprising Lonely Soul. Featuring guest appearances on a couple of the 10 tracks by the aforementioned Musselwhite on harmonic and Luther Dickinson on slide guitar, the sum of it all is a real-deal, room rattler of an album with a great throwback sound thanks to the Q Division Studios in the Boston area where it was recorded. Visit https://ga20band.com.
Red House Records
For the folk singer/songwriter/guitarist Charlie Parr, the tools of the trade when on the touring circuit performing live are simple: Songs, voice, and his trusty resonator and 12-string guitars. When he works those strings and begins singing his oft-times deep songs, one quickly forgets his typical disheveled appearance instead falling under the spell of his artistry. His intricate fingerwork on the acoustic guitar can be nothing short of mesmerizing. That quality also translates to his recorded work. His 15th album and third for his home state Red House Records simply titled CHARLIE PARR is no exception. The makeup of the album is new songs mixed with new studio versions of audience favorites from his years of endless touring. And yes, Charlie Parr is also an excellent songwriter and fine singer. On this latest album, the Duluth-based artist is in a reflective mood weaving these wonderful tales of life’s circumstances into alluring melodies with a bluesy hue and all picked out on his various stringed instruments. As on previous albums, the studio side of Parr’s music is a fuller experience bolstered in the usual complimentary fashion by various accompaniment. For this latest, Parr stayed on the home state front venturing to the Pachyderm Studio in Canon Falls, Minnesota with backing that includes percussion, electric guitar, keys, harmonica, and backing vocals. The extra firepower does not detract at all from the Parr “experience,” but instead adds both extra texture and resonance to his performance. Recommended. Visit www.redhouserecords.com.
Thanksgiving weekend at The Ocean Mist in Matunuck (895A Matunuck Beach Road) means its Hometown Throwdown time on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night will feature Slurp along with Dudemanbro and Owleye. The jams continue Saturday evening with Jabbawaukee in the headlining position and the Phil Adams Group and Guess Method occupying the opening slots. Music begins at 8 pm each evening.
The James Montgomery Band rolls into Chan’s Restaurant in Woonsocket (267 Main Street) on Friday night at 8 pm for an evening of old school blues and R&B. The next night, the original J. Geils Band “Ace of Bass” himself Danny Klein brings his mighty Full House Band to the house of eggrolls and blues, also starting at 8 pm.
The Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland (549 Broad Street) presents its annual BRT Homecoming concert and silent auction fundraiser on Saturday evening. The performers are many and include Atwater-Donnelly, Allysen Callery, Cathy Clasper-Torch & Shelley Katsh, Yacouba Diabate, Eastern Medicine Singers, and more to be announced. The concert will begin at 7:30 pm, while the silent auction will start at 6:30 pm and continue during intermission. The auction will feature CDs, jewelry, original artwork, Christmas items and gift certificates with all proceeds from both the concert and silent auction going to support the BRT’s programming and operating expenses. Sounds like win-win here.
The Thanksgiving weekend tradition continues for Rhode Island Music Hall of Famer members The Schemers who reunite to play a late afternoon show at The Met Café in Pawtucket (1005 Main Street) on Sunday with doors at 3 and music starting at 4 pm by the opening act, the Andy Stone Band,
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving weekend at The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River (16 Anawan Street) without the annual visits by Ocean State-based stalwart Roomful of Blues and Bay State rockers Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles. Roomful graces the NCFTA stage on Friday night and Ms. Borges and her fine band are in the house on Saturday night. Start time each evening is 8 pm.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3.)