“Refugee is a musically and textually perfect track….” – Wasser-Prawda (Germany)

Wasser-Prawda (Click here for original German text.)

Refugees, Violence and Poverty – Political Issues in Current Blues Songs

If you listen to new blues albums, more and more frequently you will find the most up-to-date political and social issues. Or old songs are re-interpreted, with the message still or always up-to-date. Here is small cross-section of current releases.

A deep groove from the Delta, a stoic riff of the guitars, a pearly piano and a story told by different voices. Suddenly one is in the middle in the flight over the Mediterranean. Delta Moon tell the story in “Refugee” from the point of view of the refugees, which you can see briefly in the news, but which hardly ever really reaches to our proximity. “Refugee” is a musically and textually perfect track, a song that you cannot play and hear often enough.

With his latest album “Migration Blues”, Eric Bibb draws the parallels between the escape from the Delta in search of a better life at the beginning of the 20th century and today’s refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. Thus he portrays the simple life in the Delta as well, the consequences of long-standing drought at that time, or praying for a safe coast. Accompanied by the French harp virtuoso Jean-Jaques Milteau and guests like Big Daddy Wilson, an album is created in the sound of the classic Delta blues, which is hardly to be surpassed for realness.

Unless one accesses “Manic Revelations” by songwriter Pokey LaFarge. In the sound of the soul of the ’50s and ’60s, the musician sings about revolts in the USA in the face of increasing police violence, from the escape from the news to the seemingly apolitical country. This comes with a partly intersecting humor, which can make the hardness more bearable.

And here Lafarge is akin to John Nemeth, the Soulblueser, who has been living in Memphis for a number of years. With him, the everyday gun violence in the US comes along in a loose-footed party sound and a call not to let the brains fog, as in the funk of the 60s. “They Never Pay Me” by Gina Sicilia, on the other hand, is musically close to the blues singers of the 1920s, a lament about poverty and social injustice.

Blues was already in its beginnings more than music for the entertainment or the temporary escape from the everyday life with dance. Blues musicians have always told their songs of social issues, of the experience of injustice and violence, but also of the joy of developments for the good. This function of the blues musicians as political and social commentators led to the soul music of the ’50s and ’60s. And then the rappers more and more took over this position. But times such as today lead to the fact that the blues musicians are more aware of their social function. The artists listed here are probably only a part of the current scene, an encouragement to go out on their own to search for songs beyond the pub, dance and love-affair.

New Delta Moon T-Shirt

We’ve added a new T-shirt to the Delta Moon webstore. We found a low-resolution version of this image of a skull moon breaking out from inside the sun and loved it. So we set out to find the artist and pay him for a printable version. The search, via the Internet, led around the world, and when we finally located the artist, Jack Bloom, he had an Atlanta phone number. After we’d talked and Jack sent a license contract, his street address looked familiar. Believe it or not, he lives in Cabbagetown! Thanks, Jack.

Delta Moon on Tour

Delta Moon’s Cabbagetown tour of Europe is about to enter its fifth week. So far the guys have played 20 dates in four countries, including a prison show and a live radio broadcast. Now they are taking a welcome break in Berlin for a few days before hitting the road and stage again.

The tour will wind up May 7 in Catania, Sicily. For more information, please see the calendar.

(Photo by Reinhard Pfetsch, Augsburger Allgemeine.)

Moving On Up

Delta Moon’s Cabbagetown has jumped from Number 24 to Number 8 on the Roots Music Report’s Blues Chart this week. Not to brag, but — well, okay, to brag a little — the Blues Song Chart has four of our songs in the Top Twenty: “21st Century Man” at Number 6, “Rock and Roll Girl” at Number 7, “Just Lucky I Guess” at Number 10 and “Refugee” at Number 17. And, to top things off nicely,  in the Top 50 Chart for our home state of Georgia Cabbagetown is Number One.

Advance Praise for “Cabbagetown” – No Depression

No Depression

Take a scenic trip with Delta Moon to Cabbagetown

By Rick J Bowen

DELTA MOON – CABBAGETOWN – Jumping Jack Records 

Atlanta’s sultans of slide guitar; the blues and roots rock quartet Delta Moon return with their eighth studio album Cabbagetown, released March 17, 2017, on Jumping Jack Records. The follow-up to the award-winning 2015 release, Low Down, named one of the best blues records of the year by both Downbeat and Blues Music Magazine.  The new album features nine original compositions and a lively cover of Son House’s timeless classic, “Death Letter“.

Award-winning songwriter and lead vocalist Tom Gray once again penned most of the new Delta Moon tracks, showcasing great grooves, thought provoking lyrics, infectious hooks, sweet slide guitar work and mountains of superb tone created at the legendary Bakos Amp Works.

The opening track “Rock and Roll Girl“, is an autobiography of roots rock dreams with a Springsteen like appeal. The free flowing acoustic driven groove of “The Day Before Tomorrow,” has an ultra-optimistic sensibility and alt country flair. Franher Joseph moves to Upright Bass for the mostly acoustic introspective tome “Just Lucky I Guess,” and Gray picks some sublime lap steel guitar on the happy go lucky love song “Coolest Fools.” Delta Moon are not ones to shy away from hot topics, taking on the viewpoint of the silent victims of the world’s problems on the provocative track “Refugee” recanting their plight in multi voiced narratives over a soulful groove. Gray switches to electric piano for the driving “Mad About You, “and drummer Marlon Patton lays down a phat hip hop beat to open the ultra-modern reading of “Death Letter,” with Jon Liebman adding greasy Blues Harmonica, sparring with Gray’s lap steel. Another deep groove is at the center of Gray’s satirical look at our gadget obsessed world on “21st Century Man,” while the back-porch blues that inspired the album title “Cabbagetown Shuffle,” is a lively duel between Gray on Hawaiian guitar and Mark Johnson on Bottleneck slide. Gray leaves us with a lesson about our shared humanity on the gently rocking “Sing Together,” with Johnson preaching to the choir with more of his glistening slide guitar.

Advance Praise for “Cabbagetown” – PBS106.7, Melbourne, Australia

By Peter Merrett
PBS106.7 Melbourne, Australia

* DELTA MOON. “Cabbagetown”.

*Label: Jumping Jack Records.
* Tom Gray : Vocals, Lap Steel Guitar, Guitar, Keyboards, Harmonica on track 9.
* Mark Johnson : Vocals, Mandoguitar, Lap Steel on track 1.
* Franher Joseph : Vocals, Bass, Upright Bass on tracks 3 & 9.
* Marlon Patton : Drums, Percussion.
* Kyshona Armstrong : Vocals on tracks 1, 2, 5, 10.
* Susannah Masarie : Vocals on tracks 1, 2, 4.
* Jon Liebman : Harmonica on track 7.

*** Track 1. – “Rock And Roll Girl” Written by Tom Gray.
Man oh man after the success of the stunning “Low Down” album of 2015 it is just so good to have the guys back. Wonderful Rock & Roll intro infused with Johnson’s lap steel guitar. Gray’s raspy voice has certainly matured into a very distinctive tone that is more than pleasing to hear. Armstrong and Masarie provide the wonderful chorusing background vocals. Potent Atlanta style rockin’ Blues.

*** Track 2. – “The Day Before Tomorrow” Written by Tom Gray.
Continuing in that rock vein of track one this acoustic offering certainly moves along and again Johnson’s lap steel shines. For me the last album established the fact that there are very few bands that are as forceful and creative with the lap steel guitar. Throughout the rhythm section of Joseph and Patton shine as they provide the drive and groove for the band. As for track 1 Armstrong and Masarie again provide the background singing. Another stunning original that has a live feel about it. Brilliant performance and song writing.

*** Track 3. – “Just Lucky I Guess” Written by Tom Gray.
Slowing down the tempo but not the intensity this ballad is absolutely stunning and displays how all of the elements that make up Delta Moon come together. The tonality of the guitar is sublime as Gray vocalises throughout with his gritty sinuous trademark voice. This certainly is an amazing song that not only sounds great but feels the same way also. Quite a standout track from all members of Delta Moon. This is why we Blues hounds love this group so much.

*** Track 4. – “Coolest Fools” Written by Tom Gray.
Southern Blues/Rock that just moves along in the tradition of the great Atlanta groups. Again the trademark guitar sound is sublime but somewhat more subtle than previous tracks but still packs enough of a punch to let you know just who you are listening to. Grays vocals establish the story and carry the song perfectly as the band are stunning from top to bottom. Masarie provides the background voice on this one. Wonderful little love story that is very “cool” indeed.

*** Track 5. – “Refugee”  Written by Tom Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
Extremely topical at this time and the story can certainly start with the native Americans followed by the slaves and then to today’s civil unrest and war in the Middle East. This is a pointed statement at the state of our world and how we treat refugees. Joseph’s bass voice adds a menacing powerful statement throughout as Armstrong breaks it down to its lowest ebb of degradation to the displaced peoples of the world. Throughout the native American beat and cadence is tangible and telling. Thought provoking honest appraisal of just what we have done to fellow humans on mother earth.

*** Track 6. – “Mad About You” Written by Ton Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
Patton drives this one along with some very solid drumming that add to the grittiness of a song that introduces Gray’s vocals and electric piano that are expressive and questioning. As with previous tracks Gray and Johnson deliver outstanding guitar that just makes you sit up and say wow. Great track.

*** Track 7. – “Death Letter”  Written by Edward James House Jr. ( Son House).
If ever you wanted to cover an artist when you play some of the wickedest steel and lap steel guitar then Lyon, Mississippi’s Son House is that artist. This isn’t just a mere cover but rather a stunning interpretation that brings Son into the 21st century. For me this one has elevated the group to dizzying heights that just moves my soul so much. From Patton’s modern Hip hop style drumming certainly introduces this song very differently to what one would expect but man it works perfectly. Joseph’s bass voice was a masterful stroke to the singing duties of Gray and Johnson as it adds that atmospheric darkness to the recording perfectly. Liebman’s harmonica riffs throughout the background to great effect as the full on guitar attack cuts through to the bone laying bare the soul of a man. Now this is how Son House would want to hear his seminal song. Like the way he played that was just plain brutal to his National guitar,  this is just as brutal and so very desirable.

*** Track 8. – “21st Century Man ” Written by Tom Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
What a whimsical look at our world around us and ain’t it the truth what with people moving through life staring at some hand held gadget as if their life depended on it. Traversing through life now when you don’t understand or want to understand so called modern technology is a test within itself. Quite laid back instrumentation … “punctuated” by subtle electric piano from Gray. Ahh damn l’m just a 20th century man and proud of it!

*** Track 9. – “Cabbagetown Shuffle” Written by Tom Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
Now here we have an absolute gem of a back porch Country Blues instrumental that just feels prefect. This epitomises Delta Moon so well as their Southern Roots shine. Gray’s Hawaiian Guitar and Johnson on Bottleneck duel back and forth with effortless ease. Gray also riffs on harmonica as Patton’s brush work on drums sparkles. Now pass me the jug as l need a taste.

*** Track 10. – “Sing Together” Written by Tom Gray, Mark Johnson, Franher Joseph & Marlon Patton.
Closing out the album we return to the rockin’ style of track one. Here again we have a social commentary that needs to be said. Delta Moon don’t shy away from what is happening around us. Gray delivers his trademark vocals with a powerful chorus emphasising just what needs to be said. Johnson wails and moans with his slide guitar as Patton calls out with his African drumming reminding us where we come from and are all one. Now this is one helluva Blues album.

So glad to have you back, Delta Moon, and man you have delivered an outstanding Blues album in your very own inimitable style. Never one to follow the mainstream but rather follow your Southern Roots with a sound laden with stunning guitar and vocals.  The cover of Son House’s “Death Letter” moved my soul and made me realise just why l and countless others can’t get enough of Delta Moon. Your songs are outstanding and at times very pointed and cutting back the layers of our lives exposing what we chose to ignore. All round the orchestration is brilliant as is the charts and phrasing. There is no filler here as every song can stand alone and shine, this is somewhat rare in this day and age as many albums have that track or two that just doesn’t cut the mustard. Congratulations guys on an outstanding album that will certainly feature highly on favourites lists at the end of the year.

Pre-order the New Album

Delta Moon’s new album, CABBAGETOWN, features the band’s signature dual slide guitar sound, but with some new sonic twists. These songs explore fresh territory, inspired by people and scenes the band has experienced at home and in their travels. Five-time Grammy winner Susan Archie is doing the artwork. International distribution is already set up. But to get this music out of the studio and into the world we need your help.

Through PledgeMusic you can pre-order CABBAGETOWN and get the inside track on exclusive information, videos and merchandise not available anywhere else.

Ten percent of any money raised beyond our goal will go to the Music Maker Relief Foundation, which was founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty or time.

To all our supporters, a big thank you, and please tell a friend.