Delta Moon in Spain – Part 3

(Part Three of our adventures in Spain this February. Here are Parts One and Two.)

This week I learned something I already knew. Eleven shows in eleven days is too many. Especially when the offstage time is divided between short hours in a cold hotel bed and long hours in a van. At a pace of six on and one off — an ancient tradition codified in religion — it’s possible to roll along week after week. To tell the truth, I was shocked when I first saw the Spanish tour schedule. We’d played some big festivals last summer and our music has been spinning on the national Radio Three, so we’ve been gaining a following in Spain. How could I complain? I tried to make it a bragging point. Eleven shows in eleven days! Look at us!

On day eight I started to cough. On day nine it got worse and my nose started running. On the morning of day ten I bought some cough and cold medicine at a farmacia near the hotel in A Coruña. Pepe looked at the label later and confirmed it was the right stuff. But the medicine didn’t work right. At sound check that afternoon in Avilés, some of the others stripped down to T-shirts, but even with my coat zipped to the neck I was aching and shivering. I couldn’t feel my hands or feet. Back in the dressing room Franher lent me a pair of leather gloves.

This was the biggest audience of the tour, a sold-out show at the Factoria Cultural. I went on stage wearing a T-shirt, a shirt, a sweater and another heavy shirt over that, and never broke a sweat. I think it was good show, but I don’t remember much about it. Mark, Franher and Paolo played well, as always. I’ll confess to some sloppy moments, which seemed to strike from out of nowhere. It was a great crowd, and I gave them all I had. After the show there was nothing left. The others went with the promoter for a midnight dinner. I headed straight to bed and barely made it.

Our final show of the tour at El Zagal in Aldeamayor de San Martin was a lot of fun. I ditched the medicine and the cold came back with a vengeance, but I could deal with that. This was a free-admission show on a Sunday night, and the place was packed. We mixed it up with them pretty good. Spanish audiences are wonderful. They just don’t come any better.

Eleven shows in eleven days.

Photo (top) – Tito Fernández

Photo (Avilés): Ayto Avilés

Photo (bottom): Fran Cea

Delta Moon in Spain, 2018 – Part 2

(Part Two of our adventures in Spain this February. You can read Part One here.)

We saw Gibraltar the other day. As we drove along the expressway, not far outside Estepona, Pepe, our Spanish agent and road manager, pointed to a promontory on the the horizon and said, “Do you know what that is? That is England. That is part of England.”

The Rock of Gibraltar. The Pillars of Hercules. Site of the Neanderthals’ last stand. I got a kick out of seeing that.

Delta Moon’s Tuesday night show at Louie Louie in Estepona went well, even though we didn’t draw much of a crowd. The date had been booked on just a few days notice after our Granada show was cancelled, so it was impossible to promote properly. Still the people who did come, along with the club staff, were all smiles at the end of the night. Afterward at the hotel, I collapsed on the bed fully dressed and slept hard.

The next morning the Citroen van kept wanting to stall out when idling. Throughout the day the problem got worse and worse. When we pulled in front of La Alquitara in Béjar, after six hours travel, it died completely. We unloaded the luggage and gear, and somehow Pepe was able to coax the van back to life long enough to get it to a garage. The mechanic tried a few things before saying he would have to keep it for several days. Luckily, Pepe got a good price on renting a Peugeot van that was almost the same thing — more room for gear, a little less for people — and he met us back at the club in time for sound check.

We’d played Béjar twice before, the first time at same nightclub and then last summer at a big festival. Since the venue owner also owns a first class restaurant, the food has always been delicious. We played a strong show with an enthusiastic audience. It was a good night.

In our six-hour drive the next day, Mark, Franher and I worked on teaching Pepe to speak English as it is spoken in the American South. On our last tour he mastered some basic phrases like “fixing to”. Since then other American musicians have expanded his knowledge somewhat. We’ve been helping him to put it all together. Now he easily says things like, “I’m fixing to open a can of whup-ass on y’all.”

After what will likely stand as the best dinner of the tour, we played a fantastic gig at Sala Son in Cangas, on the Atlantic coast of Spain, just north of Portugal. Ten minutes before the scheduled show time there were maybe twenty people in the place. I despaired of drawing any kind of crowd. As often happens when a room is near empty, the promoter asked us to start a half hour later. By the time we walked on stage the room was packed and the air was electric. The band caught the energy from the audience and sent it right back, and then things got wilder and wilder. Delta Moon loves Spanish audiences, and we loved this one especially. The promoter told me it was the best concert he’d had in eight years. On the road you always take that sort of thing with a grain of salt, but I’ve got to say it was right up there for us, too.

Now I’m back at the hotel, with no heat and a list of nine passwords for nine wifi networks, none of which reach my room. Later I’ll try to post this from somewhere else.

(To be continued.)

Photo by Jose Antonio Serrano Sabate.

Delta Moon in Spain, 2018 – Part 1

I’m writing this in the back seat of a Citroen van, rolling along a Spanish highway through an ever-changing Krazy Kat landscape.

A week ago today we flew out of Atlanta, Mark and I changing planes in Toronto and Franher on a different route with a layover in New York. We reassembled at the Madrid airport, where we met our friend Paolo Xeres who had flown in from Italy to drum with us on this tour and Pepe Ferrández, our agent and road manager in Spain.

Delta Moon’s method of coping with jet lag in Europe is to stay awake after arriving and not sleep until bedtime that night. We wake the next morning rested and in sync with our new time zone. That’s the theory anyway. In Madrid it’s easy. We took a train downtown and headed straight to our favorite Madrid starting point, an old-school working-class tapas bar with a metal counter, a little way off the beaten tourist path. The guys there remembered us. We spent a pleasant afternoon, walking here and there, tasting this and that, and making some new Spanish friends, until it was time to catch the last train back to our hotel. A good start to the trip.

The first show was the next night in Zaragoza, a town we’d played twice before. Rock and Blues was a larger venue, with free admission. Half an hour before showtime I was afraid no one would show up. Fifteen minutes later the place was slammed. We gave the show everything we had, and it went over big. A Facebook review later called us a “blues hurricane” with a “barbaric nature”. Right!

Friday we drove to Barcelona, another favorite city. This was our third time at Rock Sound. Several people there told us they’d been to all three shows. We’ve never failed to have a great time there. In the morning we enjoyed paella for breakfast at a restaurant near La Sagrada Familia, the famous cathedral that’s been under construction since 1882 and is due to be completed in just a few more years. Then we piled back into the van and headed for the next town. Already we’d settled into the rhythm of the road.

Our venue in Monzón was a 400-year-old church converted to a modern concert hall. After our show the promoter invited us for a drink at a local bar. It seemed like half our audience was there. They were wonderful people and I enjoyed talking with them, but the room was smoky and loud and everyone was shouting. After finishing a beer I went outside and sat on a bench in the square opposite. A little while later Paolo emerged and joined me. There was a tree nearby with its branches cut short. Each limb ended in a scarred ball with one fresh shoot sticking up about six inches, like an upraised middle finger. “Look,” said Paolo. “It’s a fuck-you tree.”

Sunday we drove to Santander, an ancient city on the northern coast. Little Bobby was a small venue, perfect for a rainy Sunday evening when there was an important football game (but when in Spain is there not an important football game?). We played an early show, then walked through the wet, narrow streets of the old town to a nearby restaurant that stayed open to provide us an excellent meal in a back room.

We had time for only a few hours of sleep before hitting the road early to Seville, all the way across Spain, on the southern coast. We were dismayed to learn that morning that Tuesday’s show in Granada had been cancelled for reasons beyond our control or understanding. The promoter was able to fill the date by changing the venue to a nightclub in Estepona, a couple hours away, which was fine as far as that went. But we received many online “say-it-ain’t-so” messages from fans, some even sending photos of their tickets. I answered every one and did my best to get the word out, but it was an awkward situation. I hope that someday we can make it to Granada.

Sala X in Seville was a lot of fun. This was our first time in the city, but there were many familiar faces in the audience, people we knew from Madrid and Italy and as far away as Germany. It was good to see them all. We had a good crowd, and I hope we made some new fans and friends.

As I’m writing this we are pulling into Estepona, a wealthy enclave on the Mediterranean shore. The sea looks blue and lovely through the van window. I’m going to close the notebook now and put on my sunglasses.

(To be continued.)

Photo by Cristina DeVille Photography.

Venue Change, February 20

VENUE CHANGE: Delta Moon’s show Tuesday, February 12, has been moved from Planta Baja, in Granada, to Louie Louie, Avenue Luis Braille 1, Estepona, Málaga, Spain.

We apologize to anyone inconvenienced by this change and hope we will see you Tuesday.

Tasting Blood and Seeing Stars

We have only eight copies left of Delta Moon’s CD Black Cat Oil. I’ve talked with Steven Goff, the head of Red Parlor Records, our American label for that 2012 release, and we’re not going to press any more. Of course, the album will live on in digital form, through downloads and streaming.

I’m glad it’s finally selling out. The reviews were good, but not everyone was a fan of Black Cat Oil. The band experimented with some different recording techniques, looking for a darker sound. When we turned in the album, Steven Goff thought it was way too dark, yet to his credit he still put it out. Even Mark Johnson said, “You’ve got to admit, your songwriting changed after you had cancer.”

Well, perhaps it did. That sort of thing will leave a mark. In October 2009 I came off an extraordinarily miserable flight from Copenhagen to Atlanta and went straight into the hospital to undergo emergency surgery for colon cancer. Just a few weeks later I was back on stage, sitting on a stool and wearing a plastic bag. Within a year I was able to get rid of both. Then the cancer came back. I checked into the hospital for a total colectomy the same day my friend Charles Wolff went into hospice with pancreatic cancer. The last thing he said to me was, “I hope I see you again.” Not long after that, twenty pounds lighter and with a belly full of staples, I played “I’ll Fly Away” on a dulcimer at Charles’s memorial service.

That was the time of Black Cat Oil. Maybe the songs did come out dark, although I tried to pack into the lyrics every ray of hope and sunshine I could clutch at. It’s an album of fighting, not whining —but of sometimes “tasting blood and seeing stars.”

Last summer at the Kitchener Blues Festival in Ontario I met a woman with her head wrapped in a kerchief. She was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer.  She told me that one thing that had helped her get through the experience was listening to Delta Moon’s Black Cat Oil. She said, “There’s something about that album that really speaks to me.”

I said, “You know, I was on chemo when I wrote a lot of those songs.”

“I can believe that,” she said. “Thank you for doing it.”

And that’s what it’s all about, right there. A musician’s life has many rewards, not all of them financial. We make our music and send it out into the world and rarely know how it may touch the lives of others. But every now and then, when we do hear back, it is both fulfilling and humbling.

Christmas Time in New Orleans

Hi Everyone,

Mark here. Although I usually let my guitar do my talking, I wanted to tell you about a song I wrote that Delta Moon has just recorded and released. It’s called “Christmas Time in New Orleans”.

The song was inspired by a trip I took with my wife many years ago to New Orleans. It was really cold and actually snowed on Christmas Eve. We house-sat all weekend In The French Quarter for a woman who ran the Congo Square Stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I remember sitting around a wood burning stove trying to stay warm, listening to WWOZ on the radio and looking up at all these photos of famous musicians on the walls. We went to parties and shows with friends all weekend wearing Mardi Gras masks.  It was snowing and all the oaks in City Park twinkled with thousands of Christmas lights. Christmas time in New Orleans.

It’s our first recording with Adam Goodhue on drums, a man who knows a thang or two about New Orleans drumming!

An early holiday gift. I hope you like it.


Artwork by Susan Archie.

“Christmas Time in New Orleans” recording session photo by Adam Goodhue.

Oktober in Germany

Delta Moon is embarking on a whirlwind tour of Germany. With the shows listed below and private events, we’re working almost every night and will be home by Halloween.

Friday, October 20Earth Music, Wetter, Germany.

Saturday, October 21Tillmans, Chemnitz, Germany.

Sunday, October 22Kulturwelten, Helmbrechts, Germany.

Tuesday, October 24Die Eule, Bad Kissingen, Germany.

Wednesday, October 25Topos, Leverkusen, Germany.

Thursday, October 26All-die Kunsthaus, Velbert, Germany.

Friday, October 27Hamburg Blues Nights, Hamburg, Germany.

Photo by Fran Cea Photography