Thursday, October 16, 2008

Matthew Stubbs and Ian Parker

I have a couple of artists I want to tell you about--some really good new players coming on the scene and bringing an energy and craft to their music. Matthew Stubbs and Ian Parker both have new cds out--Matthew Stubbs' cd is "Soul Bender" and it is on Vizztone, and Ian Parker's new cd is "The official Bootleg" and it is as best I can tell an Indy release.

Let me talk about each cd a bit. Matthew Stubbs may only be 25 years old, but he is a fine electric guitarist. "Soul Bender" is my introduction to this artist, and this cd is a rarity--all original instrumentals played over a tight solid rhythm section and with soulful horn accompaniment which includes "Sax Gordon" Beadle. He starts things off with an uptempo surf-ish workout on the title cut, and then he does a nice Bo Diddley-ish number, and then with "Rivelli's Mood" things start getting GOOD. I keep thinking I'm listening to a Steve Cropper record. "Jacksonville Jerk" and "20 Gallons of Beadle Juice" wouldn't be out of place on a mid 60's soul record coming out of Stax--& that's high praise. There's a sax and guitar number "Stomping on Thru" that could be from an old Boots Randolph record. "Stubbs Sauce" burns smooth and sweet like the BBQ sauce it's named after. This cd just pulls you in--there aren't any extra notes, there aren't any any cliched riffs--all there is here is good cool instrumental music. Matthew Stubbs is now playing in Charlie Musselwhite's band, as well as playing with the "Soul Bender" band. A real good cd. An up and comer.

Now let me talk about Ian Parker. He is a fine young English guitar player with taste and touch rare for anyone twice his age. "Bootleg" is recorded live in the UK February 2008. Seven of the ten songs here are originals--there are also covers of Memphis Slim's "Everyday (I Have The Blues)" and Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" and perhaps most curiously, a cover of U2's "With or Without You." It's a 4 piece band--Ian on guitar, 'Morg' Morgan on keyboards, Steve Amadeo on bass, Wayne Proctor on drums. They make up a really good band--they play tight like they've played together for years, yet loose enough for Parker to twist the melody here and there without kurfluffle. The band just pulls you along with their fine playing. Several of the songs are near 9 minutes; "Don't Hold Back" is the longest cut here, just over 11 minutes, and it is the only one that might have improved with some editing. But things pick up when the band kicks off "Everyday"--this song has been a guitar showcase forever--before this I always thought Robben Ford's version was my favorite. But Ian Parker here floats like a young BB King, flat out burning it up. After that comes a beautiful version of "Little Wing." I know there are great versions of this song--Jimi's original, Stevie Ray, Eric Clapton--but it is amazingly beautiful here. I found myself leaning towards the speakers just to hear Ian better. Following these two great performances the band does two nicely played but generic boogie blues tunes, "If It Must Be" and "In The Morning" which has a terrific guitar solo. Then they close with the U2 cover on Ian on acoustic guitar. It's a breathtaking moment--I can almost see the lighters swaying over the crowd.

I really like both of these cds--and I urge you to go hear these guys live. Both deserve your support.

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