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Review of Cabbagetown in Blues Again (France)

Blues Again (Click here for the original French text.)

Delta Moon – Cabbagetown

We are here with the band that won the International Blues Challenge in 2003, let’s not forget it. This quartet based in Atlanta has never failed its reputation. The proof comes with this eighth studio album. In addition to the rhythm section, Franher Joseph (bass and double bass) and Marlon Patton (drums and percussion) are the two founding members who attract attention because both are slide guitarists. They are Tom Gray and Mark Johnson. It should be noted that Tom Gray was voted Blues lyricist of the year in 2008 by the American Roots Music Association. Nine original compositions and a cover of ‘Death Letter’ by Son House, interpreted in a hypnotic and modern way, appear on this CD which debuts with ‘Rock And Roll Girl’, a song that rocks, but without any hysteria. With ‘The Day Before Tomorrow,’ the next track, we listen to a rhythmic ballad as CCR knew how to do. ‘Just Lucky I Guess’ is an acoustic piece, with double bass and always the slides and voice of Tom Gray, rough as sandpaper. A powerful song that comes close to the desert blues, ‘Refugee’, sees three singers succeed each other: Tom Gray, the beautiful bass voice of Franher Joseph and that of Kyshona Armstrong, backup vocalist on other songs. A country-blues instrumental accompanied by a little harmonica and double bass, ‘Cabbagetown Shuffle’, takes us gently towards the end of the album where the brilliant ‘Sing Together’ positively and enthusiastically urges us to replay this album again and again. A beautiful record to accompany the spring.

César

Review of Cabbagetown in Don and Sheryl’s Blues Blog

Don and Sheryl’s Blues Blog

DELTA MOON
CABBAGETOWN

LANDSLIDE RECORDS  12017
ROCK AND ROLL GIRL–THE DAY BEFORE TOMORROW–JUST LUCKY I GUESS–COOLEST FOOLS–REFUGEE–MAD ABOUT YOU–DEATH LETTER–21ST CENTURY MAN–CABBAGETOWN SHUFFLE–SING TOGETHER

One of the really cool things about Atlanta-based blues quartet Delta Moon is the guitar tandem of Tom Gray and Mark Johnson, each of whom trade vocals and guitar parts throughout their latest set for Landslide Records,  “Cabbagetown.”  Franher Joseph is on bass, and Marlon Patton is on drums as the fellows romp thru nine originals and one really sweet cover of a mix of blues, roots, and even a touch of gospel.

The biography of many a rocker is laid out in the opening cut, “Rock And Roll Girl,” where “I tried to fit in, but I never really did,” so “I joined a rock and roll band!”  Mark is on lap steel on this one.  The age-old adage of “nothing beats a failure but a try” is the theme of The Coolest Fools,”  with those ultra-cool twin guitars doin’ their collective thing!  Society’s obsession with gadgetry and instant gratification is the story of the “21st Century Man,” while Marlon’s uptown funk backbeat puts a sho’ nuff new spin on Son House’s ol’ “Death Letter-now, how do you reckon that letter read?,” with well-placed harp from Jon Liebman.

We had two favorites, too.  Undoubtedly, the set’s most topical and powerful cut is “Refugee.”  A brooding, thunderous beat sets the backdrop for a series of spoken-word verses from the band members, as each boldly represents members of an oppressed society seeking safe haven  in a strange land.  And, just as sure as the sunrise promises the salvation of a new day, the lively instrumental, “Cabbagetown Shuffle,” is a refreshing blast of Delta-fied, old-time gospel, with Tom on Hawaiian guitar and Mark on slide.

Delta Moon won the IBC’s in 2003, and Tom Gray was named the American Roots Music Association Blues Songwriter of the Year in 2008.  Unique dual slide guitar arrangements and strong songwriting define “Cabbagetown” as a fine listen, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Review of Cabbagetown by Smoky Mountain Blues Society

Delta Moon – Cabbagetown

CD Review – March 2017

Blue Barry – Smoky Mountain Blues Society

Following up on their blues award winning CD “Low Down,” Delta Moon has another thriller out, their eighth CD, “Cabbagetown.”  It just follows right in the steps of “Low Down.”  This four-piece Atlanta based blues group has toured the United States, Canada and just finished a European tour.  They won the 2003 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and have been touring ever since.  With two slide players you might  think they would get in each others way.  Not the case.  Tom Gray; vocals, lap steel, guitar, keys, and harmonica, works perfectly with Mark Johnson on guitar, banjo, backing vocals and bottleneck guitar.  “Cabbagetown Shuffle,” is proof of that.  Tom wrote fours songs, he and the band wrote all of the rest, except for Son House’s “Death Letter Blues.”   Their rendition of this old classic is wonderful with Jon Liebman adding some great harmonica.  Their previous release “Low Down,” won the best blues record of the year by both Downbeat and Blues Music Magazine.  I have seen them several times, and they are just killer.  With Franher Joseph on bass and backing vocals, and Marion Patton on drums this band brings the Delta to your home.  Beautiful slide licks, long, soft, slippery and not too much.  Great vocals, with a little salt and mud.  You can hear every instrument.  It’s just flat out good music.  If you are a slide player you want to hear this.  You will get lots of ideas from it.  Why not go to www.deltamoon.com and see for yourself.  You can also find examples on you tube.  They have even been featured on television shows such as Showtime, Lifetime, and the Food Network!  A veteran, well-traveled blues band, that knows what they are doing.  I highly recommend this CD.  Give them a listen.  If you haven’t seen them, start looking for them near your town.  One of my favorite groups.  One love, blue barry – smoky mountain blues society.

Review of Cabbagetown in Professor Johnny P’s Juke Joint

Professor Johnny P’s Juke Joint

Delta Moon — Cabbagetown

The Atlanta quartet that goes by the poetic name,Delta Moon, has been playing together for a number of years. While they have crisscrossed the country, and taken Europe by storm (they’ll be there until early May, before returning to the States), they’ve also found time to record its eighth studio album. Cabbagetown is a worthy follow up to the 2015 release Low Down and the mix of serious blues with gritty rock should make this title a favorite.

The four musicians who make up Delta Moon are Tom Gray on vocals, lap steel guitar, guitar, keyboards, and he even plays harp on one song; Mark Johnson also supplies vocals as well as guitar, mandoguitar, and lap steel guitar on the first song; Franher Joseph adds vocals as well as bass and upright bass; and Marlon Patton plays drums and percussion. Special guests include Jon Liebman on harp for one song and backing vocals from Kyshona Armstrong and Susannah Masarie.

In addition, Gray writes four songs solo and co-writes another five with all of the members of the band.  There is one cover which we will get to shortly.

First up is Rock And Roll Girl, an autobiographical song of the hold music can have on us. For many, we are content to watch from the audience, but others are driven to pick up instruments, learn how to play them, and the life takes them out on the road. It’s a fun song with some country blues overtones laid over a rock beat. I like the sound, the energy is manic, but be prepared, Delta Moon will not be shoehorned into one category exclusively.

They follow up with The Day Before Tomorrow, a philosophical song with what I believe is Gray’s raspy voice delivering a solid performance over some very good guitar licks. Again, it’s not necessarily everyone’s idea of the blues, but the song has a solid base and the rock is very much roots oriented. It’s stripped down and really delivers.

Just Lucky I Guess is much more in the traditional blues vein. Steel guitars and a steady drum beat bring us in to the world of the song. I like the lyrics a lot and the song will be getting airplay on Time For The Blues as well as most every other blues show around.  They follow up with another quick song with a solid beat, Coolest Fools. It’s a good pairing of these songs together. Both are crowd pleasers with some good guitar work.

Delta Moon gets a little political with Refugee. Political in the sense of a social conscience. They explore the lives of several different refugees from all over the world. It’s a powerful song and the first that is credited to all four of the members of the band. It’s hard to listen to this song and not be moved by the plight of so many people.

The mood lightens considerably on Mad About You. The song is much more rock based, it has that feel of “California Cool” about it, but it is infinitely likeable and I caught a couple of blues purists nodding their head to the beat. That’s one great thing about Delta Moon, they can belt the blues with the best of ‘em, but they don’t shy away from exploring other sounds. This is a good example of that philosophy.

Son House’s Death Letter is the longest cut on the album, clocking in at just about six minutes while all the others fit comfortably in the three-and-a-half-minute neighborhood. For my money, it’s the best song on the album. They capture the pain in House’s classic and still manage to put their own stamp on it. While I tend to shy away from putting most longer songs on the show, I have no problem finding space for this one. It’s a great cover.

I like the song, 21st Century Man, a lot but I won’t be able to play it on the show as it contains one four-letter word that the FCC frowns on going out over the airwaves. Still, if you get this album, give it a listen as the lyrics are very strong and the song has a crazy beat to it. I would never consider censoring an artist’s right to free expression, but there are rules by which we have to abide. It’s brief and an integral part of the rhyme scheme. Just listen to it and make up your own mind. Personally, I liked the song…

The follow up with the instrumental Cabbagetown Shuffle. Apparently, the band began referring to the studio where they were recording the album as “Cabbagetown” due to the high number of vegetarian meals that they consumed during the process. For myself, I have no problems with vegetarians, hell, I’ve been known to consume my fair share as well. If that was the starting point for this lively number, I hope more artists will feast on those same vegetables.

They close the album with Sing Together, a small lesson in shared humanity. Why is it, even with common ancestry, we just can’t seem to get along. Maybe it’s just as simple as coming together and lifting our voices in song. It’s a great song to pair with Refugee, showing the darkest points of humanity with the light that just might get us through.

Delta Moon is a hard-working rocking blues band. You don’t get this good by just practicing in your garage once a week. They are constantly out on the road. If you take a look at their schedule on their website: http://deltamoon.com/ , you’ll see that they are all over the place. As of this writing they are touring Europe but should be back in time for the major festivals.

I even see one in North Carolina, so it may be time for a little road trip to check them out personally. If I get to do it, I’ll be sure to send you a report on how they do live.

In the meantime, please keep supporting blues and roots music and any live show that you come across. The world needs the music, and so do our souls.

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.)

Delta Moon on the Move

Delta Moon has been doing a lot of moving lately — ten shows in ten days in Germany, Austria and Croatia, then a day off to drive back to Germany, a bunch more dates, and another day off to drive to Italy. We play our fourth show here tonight before heading back to Germany, where we will get a night off because singing and dancing on Good Friday is against the law.

Italy has been so much fun I can’t tell you. We played two shows in Milan. Monday night the opening band — we’d met them at a festival a few years ago, including our good friends the Xeres brothers — all ended up on stage with us. The trumpet, trombone and baritone sax solos raised the pandemonium to a level that took me completely outside myself. I thought nothing could top that experience, but who could have predicted last night’s audience at the Theater Nidaba? They not only sang along with us, they started making up their own parts. By the end of the night, as we stretched out a jam on “Shake Your Hips”, we were swapping licks with a choir.

Of course, I could tell you about epic Alpine traffic jams, constant packing and lugging, and the never-ending struggle to stay one day ahead with clean clothes. In Vienna I lost my bolo tie with a glass eye set in a silver pyramid. We’ve traveled through a lot of impressive cities and beautiful countryside. But after a while it all blurs together, like an overheard conversation in a half-understood language.

What stands out in clear focus are the people — the old friends we are happy to meet again and the new ones we are making. And when you get right down to it, that’s what a musical tour is all about.

Top photo: Street art in Milan.
Bottom photo: A Croatian barbecue with our pal Tomislav Goluban. Thanks, Mario!

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.

Greetings from Deutschland

Delta Moon has been on the road in Germany for a week now. I’m writing this in the backseat of a rented Mercedes van doing 125 kph down the autobahn. It’s a beautiful sunny day here. The trees are just starting to bud.

An old friend, Greg Baba, formerly of the Atlanta-based band King Johnson, is drumming with us on this tour, and he’s doing a fantastic job. Greg lives in Switzerland now, so he was a natural to call when Marlon Patton, who played drums on the Cabbagetown album, had other commitments during the six weeks we’re in Europe.

Most of the dates on this tour are clubs and indoor festivals, but yesterday afternoon we played a men’s prison. The guys seemed to enjoy it. After the show several came up to thank us before getting herded out. I was touched when one man shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “For a while, your music has freed my soul.”

The sound man told us that the real party is at the women’s prison in Frankfurt. He said the band plays outside, and the women all get up and dance on the grass. Over the last few years we have played several men’s prisons in Germany. The men like to clap hands and shout, but there’s never any dancing. We still have hopes for Frankfurt next year.

(Thanks to Kurt Heldmann for the photo.)