Keys to the Highway

Last Saturday at Blind Willie’s in Atlanta I tried something new. I took a little MiniNova synthesizer and strapped it on like an accordion for a couple songs.

In the early days of Delta Moon an electronic keyboard was a big part of our live show, but gradually the thing became an obstacle on stage, a lot of work to carry around and set up, with nobody playing it most of time. Finally I realized I was playing it only to justify having set it up. One day I left the keyboard behind, and no one even commented. On our studio albums we still used some piano, organ, synth and harmonium, but the live shows became all about the guitars.

For a while now I’ve been wanting to work some keyboard sounds back into our live show. I bought a MiniNova, a full-featured synthesizer in a small box, with accordion-size keys. Of course a straight synthesizer would sound too clean and plastic for Delta Moon. Mark lent me a fuzzbox to dirty it up and I ran the thing through a guitar amp, which gave it a nice edge. Once we were pleased with the sound I brought the instrument to a gig and set it on a stand by my side. During the first keyboard solo a woman fell down on the dance floor, and her male partner dived on top of her. They started grinding away right there with their clothes on. When the song ended Darren stood up, pointed to the keyboard, and said, “That thing is in.”

But the stand took up valuable real estate at the center of the stage. Last week it hit me: if the instrument is the size of an accordion, then why not treat it like one? I cut down a guitar strap and rigged the keyboard to wear.

On Saturday’s maiden voyage I learned a few things, such as not to hold it with my left hand near the on/off switch. But overall the outing was a success. The audience stayed upright this time. The experiment will continue.

(Thanks to Gary Penley for the photo.)

5 replies
  1. Lynn Peeler Carper
    Lynn Peeler Carper says:

    I enjoy reading your journal, Tom. I always look forward to your posts on facebook. Does Delta Moon ever play in the area of FL Hwy 30A near Seaside, Grayton Beach and Rosemary Beach? (Near Destin) I think your music would be appreciated there. —Lynn Peeler Carper

  2. Tom Gray
    Tom Gray says:

    Hi, Lynn. We know south Walton County well, but Delta Moon has never played there. We have played in Destin, Sandestin and Pensacola from time to time.

  3. Lynn Peeler Carper
    Lynn Peeler Carper says:

    Hal and I spend a lot of time on 30A. There are so many visitors from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and mainly the Atlanta area. Everyone is always looking for good music. The Red Bar in Grayton Beach is always packed. I just know you would find a lot of fans there!

  4. Gary Penley
    Gary Penley says:

    Have you guys ever played in Key West at Hog’s Breathe Saloon saloon on the strip? If you are ever going to Miami area, I suggest you call Hog’s Breath and offer to do a gig and see what they would pay. It is really fun place to party, dance and drink a little. It is really a happening place during winter months when everyone goes south for great weather. Add it to your tour. You could enjoy the area while you are there. It is one of my favorite getaway places to party.


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  1. […] my wardrobe is minimal, washable and redundant. Every sock is alike. I started the tour with some ambitions for stage gear, but have already ditched them in favor of simplicity. Setting up all that stuff was stressing me […]

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