GTBB is part of Coral Head Blues Fest lineup

When the Ghost Town Blues Band rolls into Marathon on Saturday, Oct. 19, it will be playing the title track from its latest album, “Shine,” that is less than two weeks old.

Ghost Town Blues Band, a Memphis act, is part of the fantastic line up of the Coral Head Blues Fest at the Marathon Community Park. Also appearing: Dana Fuchs, Shaw Davis, Anthony Gomes, Bill Blue and the Paul Deslauriers Band.

“Shine” is Ghost Town Blues Band’s fifth album, and fourth studio album. (The fourth, a live recording of its shows, debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts. Wow.)

“‘Shine’ is a departure from what we normally do,” said frontman Matt Isbell. “It’s a little bit Americana, rock ’n’ roll, roots-driven.”

Isbell said it’s a natural fit — Memphis is the “Melting Pot of the South” and his band mates, together 10 years, come from wildly disparate backgrounds. The piano player has a church background, the trombonist comes from hiphop, and Isbell characterizes his own musical upbringing as a “folksy, sing-y, songwriter” who has exactly one formal guitar lesson under his belt.

“When you put six musicians in a room, they are going to speak the truth musically. We’re not trying too hard, just making the music that comes out of our fingers and minds and bodies and souls,” Isbell said.

The band often makes a New Orleans-style second line entrance before transitioning to normal instruments. But not that normal. Isbell plays an instrument made from his grandmother’s silverware chest and drummer Andrew McNeill has an electric analog push broom. (Yeah, we don’t know, either, but we can’t wait to find out.)

Isbell said one of the crowd favorites is “I Get High,” originally performed by the Funky Meters.

“It has a Porter, Batiste Stoltz vibe, but we made it our own and it took on a new life. Put it this way, at one point our trombonist starts rapping, and we got some Allman Brothers jams in the middle,” he said.

Ghost Town Blues Band has some serious credibility with about two dozen industry accolades earned since 2015. Living Blues Magazine said, “With a shoot-from-the-hip Memphis attitude, and a STAX-busting explosion of modern blues vision, GTBB represents a welcome changing of the guard.”

Sounds about right.

Coral Head Blues Fest
Saturday, Oct. 19
Gates open at noon
Marathon Community Park
Tickets $14/$19 |

Sara Matthis
Sara Matthis
Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.

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