Over the years, Memphis has been instrumental (no pun intended) in the development of the blues, rock ‘n’ roll, soul and R&B, and it continues to give birth to some of America’s next up-and-coming artists to this day. Case in point: Ghost Town Blues Band.
Since releasing their first recordings in 2009, the members of Ghost Town Blues Band have been blazing their own trail in the blues world, racking up awards, hitting the Billboard charts and garnering a devoted following thanks to their raucous live shows and unmistakable Southern influences. Through it all, they’ve called Memphis home.
A Memphis original
Like a lot of great artists, Ghost Town Blues Band’s reputation was solidified by explosive live shows that blend a dizzying array of influences into a unique, high-energy sound that draws from the past but belongs firmly in the present. Fans of Ghost Town Blues Band know exactly what they’re getting when they go to see the band live—and that’s a little bit of everything.
Wailing harmonicas, scorched-earth cigar-box guitar jams, soulful organs and funk-infused bass and drums… Ghost Town Blues Band has something to offer anyone with an appreciation for Southern music. Simply put, the band melds the North Mississippi Hill Country blues of R.L. Burnside with New Orleans-style brass and Allman Brothers-like improvisational blues-rock jams.
Ghost Town Blues Band combines all these influences and more into a sound that is distinctly its own and distinctly Memphis. Multi-instrumentalist and frontman Matt Isbell puts it best, telling Blues.Gr, “We definitely have a Memphis sound because we are from Memphis. It’s a very eclectic mix of cigar-box slide guitar, energized Hip-Hop Trombonist, Allman Bros. influenced twin guitar solos, rock ‘n’ roll drums [and] a horn section with pounding keys.” Although the band has toured nationally and become a festival favorite, it remains a mainstay of local Memphis venues like Newby’s and Blues City Cafe.
Additionally, Ghost Town Blues Band has acted as ambassadors of our great city by sharing our music from the Blues Tent at the Beale Street Music Festival to the main stage of the Montréal Jazz Festival in Montréal, QC Canada.
Big things on the horizon
Ghost Town Blues Band has been hitting the road hard for years now, and it’s clear that all the hard work is paying off. The band snagged a 2015 Blues Blast Music Award nomination for “Best Blues Band” and won the 2016 Independent Blues Award for “Best Contemporary Blues Song.”
Ghost Town Blues Band’s 2018 album, a take-no-prisoners live recording called “Backstage Pass,” hit No. 4 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart and was praised by American Blues Scene for its versatility and ingenuity. The publication wrote, “Anyone who’s ever walked into a random bar and wound up hearing an extraordinary band will love the energy of ‘Backstage Pass.’” And if you live in Memphis, there’s a good chance you could walk into such a bar on any given night.
Ghost Town Blues Band’s music is available to stream and download through Bandcamp or iTunes, and fans of live music can expect to see a lot of Isbell and the gang this year. But although they’ll be on tour across the country, you can always count on Ghost Town Blues Band to come back to Memphis sooner or later.
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