DELTA MOON – Stanhope House Oct. 31, 2010
By Greg Lewis
A small but mighty audience, including a few witches and ghouls and some guy in his bathrobe, were given some top notch blues as their Halloween treat at the iconic regional treasure known as the Stanhope House. Kudos to the new owners for bringing back the best blues venue in NJ. The place was glowing with pumpkins,monsters,witches and other Halloween props as Delta Moon put down two outstanding sets. The dual slide lead format of this Atlanta based group gives their Southern blues sound some extra grit and allows their interpretations and originals to sound quite unique. Delta Moon is led by Tom Gray, an accomplished award winning songwriter who has had his songs recorded by big time players like Manfred Mann, Carlene Carter, Cyndi Lauper (“Money Changes Everything”), and Bonnie Bramlett among others. This night had Gray on lap steel and vocals with Mark Johnson laying down both tasty and raunchy slide licks on his custom Jerry Jones guitar. (As cool as it gets IMHO.) Drummer Darren Stanley and bassist Franher Joseph enhance the dual slide lead in a big powerful way. (One of the many highlights of the evening was an amazing solo by Stanley.) Although the Sunday night audience was a bit smaller then usual, the bands inspired performance was well received by the typically boisterous Stanhope crowd. One liners were flying back and forth from the stage to the floor. Hey, it’s the Stanhope, not the Opera house! Gray played a song about going to the electric chair while sitting in a prop electric chair next to the stage. It is hard for me to single out any song as a highlight only because they were all so good. There was no let up start to finish. Their encore of Willie Dixon’s ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ had a special twist to end it. Each member of the band grabbed a drum,bell, tambourine or shaker and chanted the closing chorus ‘ all night long’ as they marched around the club urging the patrons to sing along. They had the whole place singing as they went back on stage and said goodnight. Another night of world class blues and a major league good time at the Stanhope House. A tip of the hat to them for booking Delta Moon!!