Tom Gray interview in Asheville Citizen-Times

Delta Moon offers blues boogie, new CD

By Michael Flynn
Asheville Citizen-Times
February 12, 2010

For Delta Moon singer and guitarist Tom Gray, the blues is a constant and constantly evolving.

“It’s always changing — you can’t pin it down,” he says. “If you pin down a butterfly, it’s dead. Blues music will continue, but it will be different for each generation.”

Originally a keyboard player and singer with early ’80s Atlanta rockers The Brains, Gray began playing lap steel guitar later that decade and has been immersed in the blues since. He and bottleneck guitarist Mark Johnson are bringing Delta Moon’s dual-slide blues rock boogie to Jack of the Wood on Saturday for a “CD Leak” celebration of the band’s new album, “Hell Bound Train.” Before a gig in Birmingham, Ala., Gray, 58, talked about the blues, the band and his Western North Carolina roots.

Question:

What was it about the blues that drew you in?

Answer:

The blues was always at the heart of what rock was. From Chuck Berry to Led Zeppelin, it’s the wellspring. When I started playing with Mark he was focused on the blues, and I got focused with him. All of American music draws from the blues. It’s an evolution; it’s always there. But we’re still not really a straight-up blues band. We’re drawing from our life, not a 1929 Mississippi sharecropper.

Q:

What drove you while putting together the new album?

A:

We tried to keep a Southern theme in there. We’re very pleased with the rhythm section, bassist Franher Joseph and drummer Darren Stanley, who’ve been with us since 2007. It was a lot of fun recording with them. They played together in the University of Georgia marching band, where Darren played snare drum and Franher played Sousaphone.

Q:

The band played last summer’s Bele Chere — what do you like about playing Asheville?

A:

Coming to Asheville always feels good. It feels homey to us. My dad grew up near Franklin, and my mom in Ashe County. We still have a family farm near Boone; my sister lives there now. My mother’s and father’s families are from WNC from way back. It’s the homeland for me. As a child when we were “going home” that always meant the N.C. mountains.

Q:

What can fans expect at the show?

A:

We’ll have new and old songs, throwing in whatever comes to mind. We never quite succeed in putting together a set list. The show is a conversation with the audience — we’re never sure where it’s going.

Q:

You wrote the hit, but does money really change everything?

A:

That song has been good to me. It wasn’t autobiographical, but it wasn’t fiction. The lack of money certainly changes everything.

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