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Matthew Stubbs - Soul Bender

VizzTone Label Group

11 songs; Time 37:09; Splendid

Style: Retro Electric Instrumental Blues

According to Blind bluesman Bryan Lee, unsighted musicians actually hear better than sighted ones. Bryan claims that once the distraction of what is “seen” is removed, one is forced to listen more closely, with positive results. Something analogous to that happens here where there are no song lyrics to distract from the pure music. Anyway, a guitar and saxophone can communicate emotion as well as any song lyric.

Yes, Matthew Stubbs is an electric guitarist, but fear not – this is not a Rock-Blues shred fest nor a power chord pop-off. As the title implies, it's a deeply soulful album of varying classic flavors from the 1960s.

To be fair, “Sax” Gordon Beadle should have been given equal billing because he sure has equal playing time in the CD’s mix. Beadle arranged the horn parts, and he and his accompanying players, Tino Barker and Scott Aruda, have plenty of space to complement Stubbs and fill out the sound. Chris Rivelli handles drums and percussion, and bass duties are filled by John Bunszell and Wolf Ginandes.

AND NOW, it’s time to play “Name That Tune, Riff, or Artist!” Grab a friend who knows his music and try to identify all the classic snippets one will hear in the album. For someone born after 1982, Stubbs has absorbed an incredible amount of music that comes out in his playing, almost like sampling. Here he blends it all in original, fresh songs that are full of references.

I’ll not spoil the fun by telling you where they are located, but, among all the samples you’ll hear, listen for “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Willie and the Hand Jive,” and the opening guitar riff from Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild.” Typically, you’ll have to listen fast and closely because the snippets are succinct – sort of like how Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown would throw “Pop Goes the Weasel” into the middle of a song. Just as it hit your consciousness, he would move on to passages completely unrelated leaving the listener wondering, “Did I just hear what I think I heard?” Each song has a memorable guitar hook on which Stubbs tastefully expands, never going over the top with unrestrained youthful exuberance.

Some listeners may insist that, instead of a song riff, they hear passages that sound like artists such as Steve Cropper (Booker T and the MGs), Freddie King, Bo Diddley and his patent beat, and The Ventures’ surf sounds.

This CD offers fun for young and old. Know someone born after 1993 who’s interested in guitar? Give them a copy of this CD as an introduction to wonderful sounds played in a classic style and add, “Shred not, young man, shred not!”

Bio: Hailing from a small New England town, Matthew Stubbs is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the premier Blues guitarists. Whether performing with his own band or as a sideman, the 25 year old always delivers.

In 2003, The Matthew Stubbs Band won first place in the Boston Blues Society’s “Blues Challenge.” He followed that success with a third place finish at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. The exposure was immense, and Stubbs soon joined many of today’s blues greats on stage. Stubbs did time with John Nemeth and also spent a year and a half touring North America with Janiva Magness.

Currently, Matthew Stubbs is performing with The Charlie Musselwhite Band. Stubbs can also be found doing select tours/shows with Lynwood Slim, Junior Watson, Sax Gordon, Brian Templeton and many other top acts.

Stubbs has earned a reputation for his ability to write catchy instrumentals. As found in this debut album, the songs which he composes are a cocktail of Memphis Soul, Blues, R&B, Surf, Rock n’ Roll and Groove, all perfectly mixed together. His real knack is being able to blend all of these styles with economy and simplicity like he was born in 1950.

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
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