Matthew Curry isn’t old enough to buy a beer at the corner store, and he probably only has a learner’s permit for driving, but he’s obviously obsessed and infatuated with the blues! There’s no question that the 16-year-old electric lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter has some chops. At age eleven, a veteran blues musician gave him the nickname of Little Big Man. It’s great when veteran musicians take a young prodigy under their wings to show him the ropes and tricks of the trade.
This nine-song album is the successful result. Matthew Curry is obviously a fast learner, and the Bloomington, Illinois, high school student is wired with music. Curry fronts a stellar quartet called “The Fury” that also includes Randy Hoffman (guitar), Greg Neville (drums, backup vocals), and Jeff Paxton (bass, backup vocals). The Fury describes these guys well because they play with passion, fervor, and excitement. If you think this album is another home-produced family outing to promote a young knee-high-to-a-grasshopper musician developing his craft, then you’d better think again. Matthew Curry displays voice and sensibility well beyond his years.
Co-produced by Erik Nelson (keyboards) and Karyl Carlson (backup vocals), If I Don’t Got You contains all Matthew Curry originals with the exception of the two closers from Charley Patton (“High Water Everywhere”) and Warren Haynes (“Soulshine”). That tells me that young Matthew has studied the seminal blues masters, and he has abundant respect for guys like Patton, who was the original king of the Delta blues with his hoarse, impassioned singing in the 1930s. Curry also shows he’s tuned in with music of The Allman Brothers Band and the loud, brash, hard-rocking blues style of guitarists Dickey Betts, Dan Toler, and Warren Haynes. Son, if we’re lucky, we’ll hear Curry cover Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” on a future release.
As far as his originals go, all of them are explosive and emotional in their own way. Check out his guitar work on the powerful instrumental, “Storm’s A-Brewing.” Another standout track is “Hear the Highway” with its thrilling dynamism and young man’s optimistic message about the road calling his name – “Travel on the road is what I wanna do, Playing this guitar and singing the blues.” In a similar vein, “Dancing to the Blues” will get you feeling their rhythm in your shoes. With his blazing, nimble-fingered licks, this kid is on a mission.
Besides Nelson, Carlson, and the members of The Fury, the rest of the support crew for this up-and-coming blues celebrity include Jim Kozak (sax), Mark Babbitt (trombone), Greg Hensel (trumpet), Charlie Mueller (trumpet), Doug Daniels (sax on one cut), and Nel Erikson and Robin Willis (backup vocals). One minor suggestion would’ve been to feature the accompanists a little more, similar to the break Daniels and Nelson on “Blinded by the Darkness.” I plan to follow this talented young man’s musical career. Already playing large blues festivals and concerts in his area, I fully expect him to be a big star in a short number of years. That assumes he has a little luck and few breaks in the process. You can help out by buying his album, listening to his music, supporting him, and helping him create a little buzz. In the meantime, Matthew Curry will do his part to complete his education, get his driver’s license, and continue picking with raw energy and dazzling virtuosity.