GA-20 clearly is on to something big. It’s a movement, a new traditional blues revival. The dynamic, throwback blues trio are disciples of the place where traditional blues, country and rock ‘n’ roll intersect. “We make records that we would want to listen to,” says guitarist Matt Stubbs. “It’s our take on the song-based traditional electric blues we love.” Stubbs, guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty, and drummer Tim Carman have been at the forefront of this traditional blues revival since they first formed in 2018. It’s no wonder they skyrocketed to the top of the Billboard Blues Chart.
According to Stubbs, “Since we started the band we’ve focused on the story, the melody, and on creating a mood. Playing live as much as we do, we’re finding more and more that people are discovering how cool it all is. Traditional country, soul and funk music have all had these massive recent revivals, but traditional blues so far has not.” With their new Colemine album, Crackdown, and an intensive tour schedule, that’s all about to change.
On Crackdown, GA-20’s third full-length release, the band creates an unvarnished, ramshackle blues that is at once traditional and refreshingly modern. Expanding on their previous releases (2019’s Lonely Soul and 2021’s Try It…You Might Like It! GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor) GA-20 finds inspiration on the edges of the genre, where early electric blues first converged with country and rock ‘n’ roll. The album’s nine original songs include the loping, Louisiana-flavored Dry Run, the dirty, and bare-bones Easy On The Eyes and the melodic, garage-tinged Fairweather Friend. With tight, propulsive performances and a brevity and punk energy reminiscent of The Ramones, Crackdown is rowdy and fun, filled with instantly memorable, and well-crafted songs.
Built on more than 15 years of tradition, today’s Hillfolk takes their acoustic guitar, double bass, and “anything you can find at a hardware store” sound and integrates driving drums and an electrified sound, kicking down limitations to create a vibe that goes beyond their Americana “junkerdash” roots. Want to call it bluegrass’s trouble-making cousin? Fine by us. A bit of string-band blues? Sure ‘nuff. A concoction of electrified rockin’ soulful folksy witchcraft mayhem? Now you’re talking, mama. The indelible through-line is rooted in the band’s song craftsmanship. From mountains of frontman Travis Ward’s ragged, spiral-bound notebooks comes the hard and tender. They can blow the roof off the place or draw you around the fire with their earnest musical narratives of the back alleys, the open range, and the front porch. They paint with sound the earnest stories about the lives of lovers, law-breakers, and the lion-hearted. Heroes and outcasts alike. Hailing from Boise, Idaho, the always young-at-heart Hillfolk Noir has been carving their own musical path for 15 years. Grab a cup of juice and ease on down to enjoy these newfound Hillfolk vibes. “If John Steinbeck owned a speakeasy,” said John Doe (X, the Knitters), “Hillfolk Noir would be the house band.”