GA-20 + PM Warson
31st May 2013
The 100 Club, London
I’m not sure how Boston (USA) based GA-20 had slipped under my radar, but I’m mighty glad that oversight is now a thing of the past! A train strike had robbed the WRC of its chosen reviewer and photographer, so I was happy to step into the former’s shoes at 24 hours notice.
The band is based on the two guitars and drums line-up favoured by Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers, with Pat Flaherty (who handles most of the vocals) and Matthew Stubbs (a young veteran from Charlie Musselwhite’s band) channelling Hound Dog & Brewer Phillips, while drummer Tim Carman fulfils the rhythm role, much as Ted Harvey did for Hound Dog.
The two guitarists fit hand in glove, taking turns to play bass lines under each other’s solos, but this is irreverent Blues with an almost Punk twist; like the only thing that really matters is that the music makes your feet move. That, more than anything, honours Hound Dog (whose handful of albums on Alligator Records are all worthy of investigation), who once suggested as his own epitaph “He couldn’t play shit, but he sure made it sound good”!
With four full-length albums and two EPs since 2019, the setlist must have felt reassuringly familiar to those who had witnessed the band before, especially as three of those releases are live recordings. For us GA-20 “rookies” it felt pretty much full throttle from the off!
Opening song ‘No No’ was actually a 7” single release in 2022 and has yet to appear on an album, but it was followed by a trio from ‘Live In Loveland’ (2023). ‘Just Because’ and ‘Dry Run’ had previously appeared on ‘Crackdown’ (2022), whereas ‘Double Gettin’ is a newer song which featured Carman with a drumstick in one hand and a maraca in the other.
‘Give Me Back My Wig’ and ‘She’s Gone’ both come from ‘Try It… You Might Like It’ (studio tribute to Hound Dog, 2021); the former also appears on that year’s live EP length tribute to Hound Dog, while the latter featured some of the best guitar interplay of the night. Audience fully on board and all feet moving now!
Much like The Black Keys (whose fans would surely like GA-20), this band tips its collective hat to overlooked Bluesmen like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, who had to wait until late in their lives to receive their overdue ovation. Burnside’s ‘Come On In’ (the title track of his 1998 album) was up next, before the band delved into its debut album (‘Lonely Soul’, 2019) for its own title song and ‘One Night Man’; sandwiched between them was ‘I Let Someone In’ (from ‘Crackdown’ and this year’s live album).
‘Crackdown’ also provided ‘Fairweather Friend’, before ‘I Don’t Mind’ took us way back; it had appeared on ‘The Amazing James Brown’ (1961) well before The Who covered it on ‘My Generation’ (1965), but it still sounds pretty fresh. That was followed by an audience request for ‘Cut You Loose’ (from the ‘Live Vol. 1’ EP, 2020) and a return to this year’s live album for ‘Hold It One More Time’.
For the remainder of the set the band alternated between ‘Crackdown’ and ‘Try It…’; the former spawned ‘Easy On The Eyes’ and ‘By My Lonesome’ (the latter a fine slow Blues which also graces ‘Live In Loveland’), while the Hound Dog tribute album provided ‘Sittin’ At Home Alone’ (also on 2021’s live tribute EP) and ‘Let’s Get Funky’.
I think the encore was announced as ‘Just One More Time’ (it was getting hard to hear above the cheering!), which would have been appropriate, although it may have been a cover version that I didn’t recognise, as it’s as yet unrecorded by the band.
For a relatively new band on a rail strike day there was a healthy turn out and I’m sure we can expect someone to organise GA-20’s return to these shores before too long. I’ll be there and I think you should try to be too!
No No; Just Because; Double Gettin’; Dry Run; Give Me Back My Wig; She’s Gone; Come On In; Lonely Soul; I Let Someone In; One Night Man; Fairweather Friend; I Don’t Mind; Cut You Loose; One More Time; Easy On The Eyes; Sittin’ At Home Alone; By My Lonesome; Let’s Get Funky; Just One More Time.