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“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.

Concert Review, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Esturion Music (Follow this link for the original Spanish text.)

Written by Angel Marcelo Saffores

DELTA MOON, EXPONENT OF MOST GENUINE SOUTHERN SOUL AND ROCK, LANDED IN COMPOSTELA

It’s Tuesday night and cold. It’s not raining, but the streets of Santiago de Compostela are almost empty. At half past nine when the box office opens, there are already people around the Sala Capitol. Half an hour later the site is two-thirds full. A unique and epicurean audience, knowing they have a unique opportunity , awaits beer in hand as Delta Moon appears to the left of the stage.

With the lights dimmed, the musicians enter and “Midnight Train” starts. From the chords of this song on the album <Howlin’> the intensity of the music and atmosphere will not fail to grow during the 90-minute long concert.

The audience felt the impact of that wonderful southern song that quickly changed the lukewarm applause of the beginning to a standing ovation. The party was started and thereafter it was only dance, sing and be invaded by the quality of the repertoire that followed.

Then came “Lowdown”, an excellent version of a Tom Waits song, and “Open All Night”, mounted on a catchy riff and a unique rhythm, both from the latest album, <Low Down>. Tom Gray and Mark Johnson began to reveal to their audience the virtuosity that characterizes their mourning slides and that is the indelible mark of the band.

It reached this point, fully delivered to an audience that would not stop vibrating with each chord, each counterpoint of the musicians. “Skinny Woman” and “Black Cat Oil” demonstrated the highest musical and performance level of the members of the band, only to make way, almost without catching air, for “Hell Bound Train”, another train moving steadily, ravishing with a swampy, vibrant sound. The applause and cheers did not stop at the end of each song, giving the musicians confidence which increased the party atmosphere.

As in cinema, concerts usually have two turning points in which the show surprises by taking another direction. This first moment happens with “You Got to Move”, a traditional blues with background vocals that do nothing but invite the audience to sing in harmony while moving to the beat of the rhythm section. The band recognizes the symbiosis with people and lengthens the song for the enjoyment of all.

“I’m a Witness”, “Nothing You Can Tell a Fool” and “Afterglow” are the three songs that make up the core of the show. In this space, in the midst of a delirious cacophony of people, the professional musicians unfold all the machinery available to make the show remain in our eyes and hearts for a long time. A surprising counterpoint of slide, like a duel to the death, and a drum solo as perfect as accurate, tell us we’ve reached the summit.

“Ghost in My Guitar”, the classic “Black Coffee” and “Clear Blue Flame” close the main part of the show. The feeling of the moment of these songs is to be traveling by an endless stretch of road leading to the west, while a glowing red ball of sun leaves us blind.

And now the second turning point and the lights are shining again with “Wrong Side of Town”, a song with the classic sound of that wonderful fusion called southern rock, rising the audience that intuits the end but doesn’t stop dancing and singing, as if they could make the show go on forever.

The close comes with the classic “Shake Your Hips”, which Tom Gray and his boys stretched for more than ten minutes for the musicians to shine; the public releases the energy that remains and breaks into endless applause and a standing ovation.

Delta Moon has blessed us with music that has its roots in southern slaves and cotton fields in the south which also gave us Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, J.J. Cale and ZZ Top, among others.

We leave the Sala Capitol with a great taste, happy to have been at a party.

Gip’s Place

Last Saturday Delta Moon played at one of the last authentic juke joints in the American South, Gip’s Place in Bessemer, Alabama.

According to Diane, who books the bands there, Henry “Gip” Gipson constructed the original building in his backyard in 1952. “He cleared a space so the neighborhood kids could play ball,” she said, “but they said they’d rather play music. So he built this place. Over the years he added all these rooms with his own hands. There used to be a second floor, but it burned. All that’s left now is a staircase going up from the deck outside.”

When we arrived, Gip (we also heard him called Henry, Mr. Henry and Mr. Gipson) sat onstage, wearing a blue silk New York Yankees jacket and a straw hat. He was singing and playing blues on a Gibson guitar. Even though there was nobody else in the room, he talked with us over the microphone, his voice drenched with reverb in the PA. It was as if we were visiting some kind of oracle.

Diane said, “After you’ve done your sound check, Gip will play guitar until it’s time to start. Then we will have a prayer, everyone will sing “Amazing Grace,” and we will introduce the band. On your break he’ll play his guitar again. At the end of the night I’ll be long gone, but Gip will play some more while you tear down your equipment. After you leave, Miss Bey will make sure he gets to bed.”

“How old is he?” I asked.

“As near as we can figure, he’s 94.”

Diane introduced me to Miss Bey, who sat behind a ticket window in a little building beside the driveway. Instead of stamping customers’ hands, she gave each person a necklace of plastic beads.

The place drew a mixed crowd, black and white, old and young, which is the way we like it. I met a visitor from Russia who spoke no English but absorbed everything with wide-eyed attention. During the first set Gip asked a young woman to dance with him, then convinced a young man to join her. Then he got another woman up, and so on. Soon the dance floor was full.

Over the microphone I thanked Gip for having us. He came to the stage and reached a hand up. He pulled me down and spoke in my ear.

He said, “We don’t use those words here.”

I said, “What words?”

“Thank you for having us.”

“What do we say?

“We say, ‘Thank the Lord for guiding us here.'”

On our break Gip resumed his seat, playing his guitar, singing and talking with the audience, and taking occasional sips of liquor from a plastic cup. The riffs got slower and slower and finally stopped completely. We looked over and couldn’t see Gip’s face, just the top of his straw hat.

Two men gently lifted Gip to his feet and led him from the room. We started our second set. Just as the action on the dance floor reached its peak, here came Gip again, one hand up in the air and a big smile on his face.

Somebody said, “Mr. Henry had his nap.”

Later, after the customers were gone, Gip sat in his chair as we packed up, playing whatever came to his head or fingers. I recognized a piece of “Scratch My Back” and a verse of Jimmy Reed’s “Ain’t That Loving You, Baby”. When all our gear was in the van, we gathered round to say goodnight. Gip felt like talking. He told us about Jesus and David and the Golden Rule. He told us about the time Reverend C. L. Franklin, Aretha Franklin’s father, came to meet him. The minister did not come into the juke joint but waited in the driveway for Gip to come out. “Sometimes people come to you. Sometimes you got to go to them.”

Gip sang a little of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”.

“One day soon I’m going to be 100 years old,” he said. “You reap what you sow, and lately I’ve been doing a lot of reaping. I sit here and look around me. I look at this room. And I like what I see.”

We left him alone on the stage, as we had found him. Pulling out of the driveway, we could hear his electric guitar behind us. A light was on behind the curtained window in the little building where Miss Bey waited to lead Mr. Gipson to bed.

Review of Low Down in Blues Society of Tulsa Newsletter

Blues Society of Tulsa

Delta Moon

Low Down

(Jumping Jack Records)

Delta Moon front man Tom Gray has been blessed with one of those gravely blues voices that truly accentuates his fine songwriting and melodies. Add to this his talent on guitar, lap steel, keyboards and harmonica and he is such a well-rounded artist. Low Down features nine original tunes starting off with “Wrong Side of Town” taking this album off to a blues-rocking start. The rest of Delta Moon certainly does their part with Mark Johnson, guitar, Franher Joseph, bass and Marlon Patton, drums and percussion. The band’s version of Tom Waits’ “Lowdown” is a perfect fit. This is a very good album.

Billy Austin

Review of Low Down in Il Blues (Italy)

Il Blues (Follow this link for the original Italian text.)

Delta Moon

Low Down

By Luca Zaninello

After a few years, we are discussing once again Delta Moon, a band founded by the guitarist and singer, Tom Gray and Mark Johnson, talented slide guitarist, who are back with this eleventh work of theirs, side to side with the bassist Franher Joseph and the drummer Marlon Patton. Since their discographic debut in 2002, until today the four of them have consolidated their array of roots music, blues, enriched by a harmony between the two leaders that you can feel from the very first notes.

The CD opens with the captivating “Wrong Side Of Town”, which immediately determines the personality of the entire album: simple and catchy riffs, precise accents on the slide, which also gives the solos a notable quality. The blues matrix prevails constantly, as we can hear in the following “Afterglow”, for example. The almost hypnotic trend makes plenty of space for the hoarse voice of Gray, or later in the insistent phrasing of “Down In The Flood”, an excellent interpretation of the classic from Bob Dylan.

With the pleasant “Nothing You Can Tell A Fool” we continue on the same basis, in which the Delta’s flavors are particularly accentuated, and which are even stronger in Skip James’ “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues”, from tones that are particularly dramatic and dark. However, the album reserves the most enthralling, like in the airy “Mean Streak” which, also thanks to the use of keyboards, it configures almost as a rock ballad, instead of the short and happy “Open All Night” or even in “Spark In The Dark”, both composed by Tom Gray, where we appreciate in particular the lively dialogue between the two guitarists. Nevertheless, “Lowdown”, the other cover of the album (Tom Waits), is immediately catchy, very fresh and pleasant in its simplicity. The last tracks are still compositions of Gray, characterized by the lively and addicting rhythm, and by the vocal parts sung with many voices. From the jammin’ “Mayfly” we move to the uptempo “Jelly Roll” to finish with the hot groove of “Jacky Ray”, emphasized from the Hammond, always played by Tom Gray. The harmony and togetherness of the Delta Moon are definitely one of the elements that characterize the quality of their musical proposal, destined to consolidate the follow-up of the band not just in American territory but also in Europe, Italy included, where they are coming off a short and appreciated tour.

Interview with Mark Johnson in Punchland

Punchland

Interview: Mark Johnson of Delta Moon

by Myles Hunt

August 30, 2015

When it comes down to it all, jazz is my favorite genre of music. However, blues-rock proudly comes as a close second. In pairing with my jazz series I thought it would be worthwhile to touch base with the blues as fall approaches. With a flood of talented blues masters out there, I decided to check in with a band that has regularly appeared on my shuffle. To my enjoyment, Mark Johnson of Delta Moon was kind enough to answer my request and shared his journey within the blues.

To start, I was curious to learn about how his ambitions into music. “Well, I’m not sure I have choice! I am a guitar player and a musician. I have to play every day. It’s my therapy. I always have a guitar with me where ever I travel. I couldn’t imagine life without being able to play music. We call ourselves lifers; we will play until we simply can’t do it any more. In reference to Delta Moon, once a band starts to have a little success, it kind of feeds on itself. You see a little progress and you want to build on it. You know how difficult and competitive the music business [is] and you want to, at least, stay at the level you are at and hopefully move up a bit.”

Since he has made a successful career with Delta Moon, I wondered if he had any favorite projects he has worked on. “Our latest CD, Low Down. I am really happy with the sound of this one. The grooves, songs and performances are all really strong. The sound of the room we recorded in was nice and it has a good organic feel to it.” I can attest to this man’s passion on Low Down. It is an excellent new piece of blues that will be rippling its way through the ear buds of many.

Performances come far and wide for Mr. Johnson. He shared with me his most memorable. “The ideal performance for me is any time there is a great interaction between the band and the audience, no matter what the venue or setting. We just had a great one in Soria, Spain, at The Enclave de Agua Festival. Every ounce of energy and emotion we gave to the crowd, they gave the same right back to us. It became a huge party.”

Unfortunately, shows are not always perfect. Mark gave me a glimpse of that struggle. “In general, the most difficult performances are when your equipment [are not] functioning. It’s hard to play well when your amplifier is blowing up. Once I stepped in dog doo-doo right before going on stage at The Virginia Highlands Festival and didn’t realize it until I was on stage playing. It was really hot and the sun was beating down on me and the smell got pretty unbearable. That was a difficult performance!”

Being in the blues genre, I asked Mark if he had any opinions on the music scene today. “I am OK with it. It is what it is. It’s our job to survive and hopefully succeed within it. I think there are lots of folks interested in honest, soulful music. Those are the folks we want to connect with. With the Internet, we can do this no matter where they are.” I admire this man’s optimism and remain hopeful that great music will thrive as well.

Music seems to be the end all be all for Mr. Johnson. When inquired if he would want to explore another medium, he gave me a straight answer. “… Music is enough. I have been at this 25 years or more and I still feel like I am just getting started! I will continue to investigate ways of combining music with other things I am interested in, like organic farming, quality micro-brewing and social change.”

I have been a fan for quite some time with a love of Delta Moon’s songs such as “Jessie Mae” and “Lap Dog”. I asked Mark how he felt about those songs. “I am glad you like those two, I was co-writer with Tom on both of those songs! They are groove-oriented songs that originated from riffs a came up with. I would like to do more of this groove-oriented, North Mississippi Hill Country music, even West African style music.”

Influences range everywhere for Mark. “… Jimmie Vaughn, Pops and Mavis Staples, Ry Cooder, David Lindley, The Rolling Stones, RL Burnside, Link Ray, on and on and on. [There are] too many to count.”

The crew remains busy. “We are still touring in support of Low Down. Heading around the Southeast, Colorado, New York and Canada this fall. [We will be] back to Europe in February. I am writing, practicing and working in the garden. We are gearing up for recording the next CD!” Keep an eye out for these legends people. I am serious; the blues is a genre that is sublime and unique. Delta Moon are prime examples of musicians who honor that craft. Check out their new album and become a fan!

Jam On.

Interview with Mark Johnson in Twelve Bar Rag

Twelve Bar Rag

Suncoast Blues Society

The Blues Stalker

By Monte Adkison

MoonStruck (again!!!)

From the minute that I slipped Low Down in my CD player and instantly recognized Tom Gray’s distinctive intoxicating vocals, I realized just how much I had missed listening to one of my favorite bands, Delta Moon. Their new release reacquainted me with this Atlanta-based group that I became a fan of over ten years ago. Their debut release was in 2002 and they won the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in 2003. A rotating cast over the years has now evolved into the current mix of excellent songwriting, seductive vocals, compact grooves, mesmerizing guitar work and a triumphant combination of talent. As the rave reviews of their latest effort continue to roll in, I caught up with band mate Mark Johnson just as they were preparing to leave for another European tour.

BS:    Please introduce the members of Delta Moon to those that have not had the pleasure yet.

DM:    Tom Gray – lead vocals, lap steel guitar.
Mark Johnson – backing vocals, bottleneck guitar.
Franher Joseph – backing vocals, bass.
Vic Stafford – drums.

BS:    Low Down  is your tenth CD?

DM:    Yes, our 10th CD sounds about right!

BS:    Delta Moon’s music can’t be fit into one category — you do roots, blues rock, down-home Delta, and many other styles. How would you describe your sound to those that are unfamiliar with it?

DM:    We call our sound two slide guitars, a groove and a voice. It is very blues-based but in a contemporary way. We like all kinds of music and get influences from everywhere. But the stuff we really like is soulful roots music, especially the more primitive stuff.

BS:    On Low Down, nine of the twelve songs are originals. How does Tom Gray, the award-winning songwriter, keep getting inspiration for such great numbers? Do you get together to write the two guitar parts or are you guys just so connected that it flows naturally? Tell me about that process.

DM:    Tom often brings in a song in a very basic form. Then he and I will jam on it until it sounds like Delta Moon. I will often introduce a riff that works well with what he has. Sometimes I will send him an idea and a song will come from that. Less often, something will come from a studio session where the entire band is present.

BS:    As an amazing tandem of guitarists, how do you manage to complement, rather than compete as often happens in groups with two equally talented guitarists?

DM:    We are from the Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac school – two guitars working well together can be a massive sound, if you stay of each other’s way, listen and complement.

BS:    Can fans keep up with you on social media — Facebook, Twitter, blogs?

DM:    Yes, fans can easily reach us through all the social media sites at www.deltamoon.com.

BS:    You utilized one of my favorite and I feel, underappreciated female vocalists — Francine Reed, on this disc. How did this collaboration occur?

DM:    Francine is awesome. She sang on another record of ours, Hell Bound Train, and really sounded great. Everyone loves Francine. She has a great voice and is really fun to work with — very fast and professional as well.

BS:    Mark, I know you’re into gear. For the gear heads out there, can you and Tom describe your favorite instruments? Are they custom?

DM:    I use mostly Jerry Jones guitars, Danelectro reissues made in Nashville, now no longer being made. Tom plays Stratotones from the ’50s. But we have hundreds of instruments, way too many to count.

BS:    Juke joints, festivals, small clubs, European, Canadian, and American audiences — Do you have any personal favorites where the magic always seems to happen?

DM:    Lots of places. The Bradfordville Blues Club, one of my all time favorite places to play. Another place in Bavaria called the Village, Germany’s version of a juke joint. It is run by a guy named Dieter who builds telecasters as well. Just a cool, crazy place. There are so many places really That is my joy in playing music — traveling around the world and seeing so many places and meeting so many different people. We have played a lot of really cool festivals as well, like the Montreal Jazz Festival and Kitchener Blues Festival.

BS:    Originally Delta Moon featured a strong female lead singer. Currently female vocalists are used as backup vocalists and on duets. Do you feel this shift has allowed the dual signature guitar work to be showcased and appreciated more?

DM:    It’s been over ten years since we have had a female vocalist. Since Tom has become the front man, it has allowed the band’s sound to become more focused which has led to greater success.

BS:    Low Down is going to be a hard act to follow, but I have thought that about some of your previous issues. Any new projects in the works?

DM:    Low Down has been number 2 or 3 on the Roots Music Report Contemporary Blues Chart for seven weeks now; we are really pleased with the response to the recording. But we plan to top it and we are starting work on the next recording when we return from Europe.

BS:    Releases on vinyl, streaming music services, social media publicity, technology — care to reflect on the current state of the ever-changing music industry?

DM:    I love it. There are so many ways to bring your music to your fans around the world in general. I just try to view it with open eyes, enjoy myself and stay focused. If your product is good, you will eventually be successful; you just need to decide what success means! For me, it means traveling the world playing my guitar.

Greetings from Sicily!

This last European tour was a blast! The crowds were so enthusiastic. We have done this so much now, we know what to expect. We give it to them and they give it right back, and then interaction between the band and audience begins. We throw a big mutual party. The folks and Spain and Italy are so nice and hospitable to us. And this time we went to Poland and it was great. I a really looking forward to returning in February 2016.

This is a group that electrifies a room during a live show. The counterplay and interaction of the band mates and apparent joy in the music that they create is infectious and best experienced up close and personal. Don’t miss them next time they are in your area. After recent performances in the Bay area, Suncoast Blues Society fans can testify to that fact.

The Blues Stalker

Review of Low Down in Blues Matters (UK)

Delta Moon

Low Down

By Steve Yourglivch

Delta Moon are a long established and well respected act on the American circuit and on this, their 10th album release, it’s easy to see why. With twin slide guitarists Tom Gray and Mark Johnson perfectly complementing each other across nine new original songs and three well-chosen covers and the rhythm section in the groove all the way this oozes class. Never too in your face, but everything in perfect harmony. The originals are all well written as one would expect from one time Blues Songwriter of the Year Tom Gray, who as well as slide provides lead vocals, keys and harp. Of the originals I personally prefer the slightly tougher edged tunes like “Mean Streak” and “Spark In The Dark”.The three covers are all highlights, title track “Lowdown” by Tom Waits, the ominous “Down In The Flood” by Dylan and the menacing “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” by Skip James all benefit from the Delta Moon treatment. The band show they are no one trick ponies throughout, never more so then on “Mayfly” a lovely up tempo piece of classic country rock and on “Open All Night” with it’s Bo Diddly undertones. All in all a highly recommended album for fans of well written and performed contemporary blues.

Interview with Tom Gray in Concerto (Austria)

Concerto

(Translated from German.)

Vienna Blues Festival Spring Revisited

Concerto1

“A voice, a groove and two slide guitars.” So Delta Moon characterizes their sound. And this is undoubtedly unusual in today’s Blues scene. One slide guitar, yes. But two? Even more so when one of the guitarists, Tom Gray, prefers to play lap steel? When Tom Gray and Mark Johnson decided to make a common musical project, both already had solid experience in the business. Johnson’s uncle owned a record store, and Mark started playing guitar in high school. The early nineties he came to Atlanta and focused increasingly on the bottleneck style. It was he who made Tom Gray familiar with the many shades of blues. The latter had already made a name not only with his rock band but also as a songwriter — a parallel to Earl Thomas. Among others, he wrote for Manfred Mann, Carlene Carter, Bonnie Bramlett and for Cyndi Lauper, whose hit “Money Changes Everything” he wrote. In 2003 eventually came the professional launch of Delta Moon. The band — then still with a female singer — entered the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis and won the prestigious competition.

Concerto2

“Songwriting Is My Livelihood.” – Tom Gray

When did Delta Moon form?

It was in the nineties. There is no fixed date. It was a gradual process. Mark and I jammed together now and then, and at some point he suggested we play at a coffee house on the corner. We started as a trio with a singer, then we added percussion, drums and bass, and we started to play in clubs. It was great fun, but we didn’t take it all too seriously, until about the beginning of the 2000s. After we won the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2003, the tours really got going. In 2004 the singer left us. We hired a new vocalist, but she left a year later. So I decided to take over the vocals myself.

How did you meet Mark?

At a music store of an acquaintance. I wanted to sell an old Dobro from the 1930s. The owner said he could not pay me much for the guitar, but I should try a guy who was also there in the store. And he pointed to Mark (laughs) who at first was interested, but then not. (laughs)

Before that you were working a long time as a musician. How did you start?
I started as a teenager in high school, playing in bands at parties of friends, in the church, in dance bands, and then I started earning money with it. In the late seventies I had a rock band, The Brains, for which I wrote all the material. We made some albums for Mercury Records.

Then why did you switch to the Blues?

This is hard to explain. I love the slide guitar, the lap steel. This instrument is often associated with Hawaii, but there is much of it in Blues. Mark comes from the classic bottleneck style. We got together, jamming, swapping licks, and that was actually the starting point of the band. At one time I was working in Nashville in the country scene. I rummaged in a shop for vintage guitars, and they had a back room full of lap steel guitars. I needed such an instrument for the project I was working on. So I slept on it overnight, went back the next morning and bought an exquisite lap steel, which, incidentally, I still own today, and began to learn to play. In the Blues I was inspired by Elmore James, Muddy Waters and especially Blind Willie Johnson and Mississippi Fred McDowell. Mark introduced me to countless other influences, since he was already deep into the Blues at home. He came from Ohio to Georgia. In the American South people from the North have the reputation of being somewhat rude. And in fact, Mark had at that time a band called “The Rude Northerners”! (laughs)

Did the IBC influence your career?

Certainly! It made our name known. The reputation of having won the IBC is a big deal. That year we got an invitation to the Montreal Jazz Festival and performed in England for the first time. Then we played at a festival in Italy, and it turned out that the founding meeting of the European Blues Union was held at the same hotel we stayed in. This led to appearances in Scandinavia, etc.

And what about with the club scene in the States?

Earlier you could work in the clubs for the whole week. Today it is reduced mainly to Friday and Saturday. So you try to work in the area near where you live, because the money does not allow you to sit around the rest of the week in a hotel room. You usually must drive home again after the gigs. In Europe, it’s a little easier to put together tours for several weeks. The times when you could travel for four or five weeks playing clubs in the States are over. This band has never experienced these times.

How would you define your style?

Our style reflects great respect for the traditional blues. At the same time we have found a lot of influences from our personal experiences, our life. Blues must be truthful. Merely copying other musicians, even great historical models, is not enough. Otherwise you will never come to your own sound. The fact that we use two slide guitars naturally contributes to our originality.

What does the Blues mean to you personally?

Blues for me is the foundation of the American music of the past 100 years, rock-and-roll, jazz, etc. A beautiful aspect of this is that we all go to the source and make it our own. The music can stay fresh.

You’ve written a lot of songs for other artists. How important is songwriting to you?

Without songwriting I would not be here, I would not be able to be on stage. Songwriting is my livelihood! It is something like my “day job”, but I love it, too. The inspiration for a song is a wonderful thing, even if it is not always there. I think it was the writer Somerset Maugham who, when asked whether he wrote by set schedule or waited for inspiration, said: “I wait for inspiration, and fortunately it strikes every morning at nine clock.” (Laughs) That’s how I feel about songwriting. It is work.

 How does the new album differ from the previous?

Low Down is rockier. Before the penultimate album I had cancer, spent a long time in hospital, then for a while had to sit onstage, and so the songs I wrote were rather introspective. But now I’m back on my feet, and we wanted to rock again.

Can one still make money with records?

I’m still trying to figure that out! (Laughs)

 

“Low Down” Hits Number 2 on the Contemporary Blues Chart

After weeks of oscillating between the Three and Four positions, Delta Moon’s album Low Down has risen to Number Two on the Roots Music Report’s Contemporary Blues Album Chart, based  on reported radio airplay. Meanwhile, “Wrong Side of Town” has jumped from Fifteen to Number Three on the Contemporary Blues Song Chart. Thanks to all the deejays who are playing our music, and thanks to everyone else for listening.