GA-20’s acclaimed new LP “GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It…You Might Like It!” is a tribute record to the late Chicago blues great Hound Dog Taylor. It was just released last month and recently landed at the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Blues Albums Chart.
You can check out the sounds for yourself when GA-20 and JD Simo headline a show at 118 North in Wayne on Sept. 29. For tickets and info, visit 118northwayne.com.
Since first forming in 2018, the high-energy electric blues trio – guitarist Matt Stubbs, guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty, and drummer Tim Carmandrawn – have drawn inspiration for their primal, original music from late 1950s/early 1960s blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. They use rare and vintage gear (including at times the famed Gibson GA-20 amplifier for which the band is named), creating powerfully raw, driving music that is at once traditional and refreshingly modern. The band’s dynamic self-penned songs sound and feel as fresh and real as the old blues they love and perform, including songs by Otis Rush, J.B. Lenoir, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells and especially their favorite, Hound Dog Taylor. According to Stubbs, “Not enough people know just how cool Hound Dog Taylor was.”
Stubbs is a 12-year veteran (and still a member) of blues master Charlie Musselwhite’s touring band. He’s performed with James Cotton and John Hammond, among many others. Faherty played rock and metal guitar until he was bitten by the blues bug. The two met in Boston, and their mutual love of traditional electric blues, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll led them to write, perform and eventually record their modern vision of this life-altering music. Upon forming in 2018, GA-20 quickly began to draw a following, and the band soon signed with acclaimed soul/R&B label Colemine Records, releasing their debut, “Lonely Soul,” in 2019 to widespread critical and popular acclaim. The album premiered in the No. 2 position on the Billboard Blues Chart. Their EP “Live Vol. 1” seemingly came out of nowhere to debut at #1 a year later.
PW recently caught up with Stubbs to talk about the new album and upcoming show.
GA-20 started in 2018 and drew inspiration from music from decades earlier – including naming the band after the famed, vintage Gibson GA-20 amplifier. What drew you – and continues to draw you – to this sound?
Going back to when I was a kid, my father was a musician and great music lover, and he led me down the path of rock ‘n’ roll and blues especially. It’s just always spoken to me. When Pat and I decided to form the band, we both felt a desire to pay homage in a way to the traditional, early blues artists who influenced us. But we also wanted to avoid simply sounding like a throwback band, and wanted to bring our own approach and sound, current without being “modern” blues. We feel there is space for that in the blues scene today.
Who are some of today’s artists you’re listening to?
Within the blues genre I’ve been listening to Jontavious Willis, Cedric Burnside, and CW Stoneking. Those are absolutely artists to check out if you dig blues. In other genres, and we all listen to a really wide range of stuff from jazz to metal, I’ve personally been spending a lot of time playing Ty Segall, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Caroline Rose, Colter Wall, Nick Shoulders, Sierra Ferrell, and Durand Jones & The Indications.
Talk a little about your new album, “GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor: Try It…You Might Like It!” How did it come together? How can people get it?
GA-20 already had a new full-length LP ready to go when the pandemic shut everything down in 2020. We wanted to be able to tour behind it, so we brainstormed a project to work on that we could put out ahead of that record. We are all huge Hound Dog fans and it was the 50th anniversary of Hound Dog’s first release and the founding of Alligator Records. As luck would have it, Bruce Iglauer (founder of Alligator) coincidentally reached out about working together and this idea was born.
Our label, Colemine Records, joined forces with Alligator and we couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. It was a bit of a passion project, and our hope was that the love and respect for Hound Dog, Brewer Phillips and Ted Harvey comes through. “Try It…You Might Like It!” is available for purchase, stream or download on our website (ga20band.com), local indie retailers and wherever you buy great music.
What are some of the highlights from the band’s first three years? What goals do you have for the future?
It’s a sad fact that about half of our time as a band has been hijacked by the pandemic, but having our debut album “Lonely Soul” debut at #2 on the Billboard Blues Chart and then our follow up EP “Live Vol. 1” debut at No. 1 was a huge highlight for us. We’re super excited about putting out some records and getting out on the road. We love to play live for people and we set out to reach as many new fans as we can.
You’re embarking on an extensive tour through January. How excited are you to be back in front of live audiences? What will your fans see when they show up at your show on Sept. 29?
We’ve done a little spattering of shows this summer and it feels great to be playing live again. Can’t wait to get out on the road! We’re super excited not only to play live, but also to meet so many of the fans we’ve been interacting with online during the past year and a half. And hopefully to make a lot of new ones.
Also, we’ll be out with our buddy JD Simo and his band, and that should be a damn good time. Our show tends to be a high-energy affair with what we hope is a great representation of our love of blues and the tradition of friends and lovers enjoying live music.
What are the best ways for your fans to stay current with what you’re doing?
Follow us on our socials! We’re pretty active on Instagram and Facebook so you can always catch us there. Our website also features current show info, updates, videos and pics, and a link to our webstore for music, T-shirts and whatnot. We also have a good, old-fashioned email sign-up on our site and at live shows so we can stay in touch – only about the important stuff, we promise!