Boston-based roots guitarist Stubbs has a wicked way with a groove and an ability to conjure vintage tones. His tasty arrangements make that vintage hard to pinpoint, thanks to the way he mixes swinging blues, funk, surf rock, and prickly R&B licks.
It’s a decade-crossing blend that’s branded him a versatile MVP in blues master Charlie Musselwhite’s band, and that makes Stubbs’s 2008 debut, Soul Bender, and this new album so much fun. If anything, his melody-driven approach has a link to the swinging-bachelor-pad music of the early ’60s — yet the rugged percolation of “Rugburn” and “Pistol Whip” and the gutty lope of “Tube Top Temptation” are too hip for easy listening.
It takes courage to make instrumental albums in the roots world, where vocals are king. And Stubbs is a bold player establishing his own distinctive voice with his fingers and his frets.
MATTHEW STUBBS RESIDENCY | Toad, 1912 Mass Ave, Cambridge | Wednesdays in May @ 10 pm | Free | 617.497.4950 or toadcambridge.com