“What does it mean to be from this country
Would take their brother man, bind him in slavery
And be willing to die before they’d set him free?
Still I’m proud to be from Dixie.”
– Delta Moon, “Plantation Song”
“There are other Souths beyond the white Confederate South…. My South didn’t lose the war. We won.”
– Natasha Trethewey
If you’re going to dig to any depth, the only place to start is the surface. But in writing songs for the last few Delta Moon albums, maybe I’ve been guilty of sometimes staying too shallow and heavyhanded in writing songs about the South. I see now how that can be a mistake. My writing and the band’s sound will remain Southern, because that’s who we are. There’s no need to lean on it. Our South may not be Robert E. Lee’s or George Wallace’s or Steve Earle’s or Natasha Trethewey’s, but that doesn’t make it any less real. We’ve got our own true story, and it’s one no one else can tell.
I have no regrets, though, writing a song about moonshine. Despite a few snooty comments in Northern reviews, “Clear Blue Flame” still rings true to me. It has also opened the door to many pleasant moments on the road. People like to share, and we appreciate their generosity. The quality of white liquor out there today is generally quite high, nothing like the stuff my high school buddy and I used to swipe from his brother-in-law’s garage. Moonshine seems to be enjoying a quiet renaissance in the South, a sort of shadowy parallel to the craft beer movement.
So now we embark on a new journey, writing Delta Moon’s next album. This one may have no moonshine or trains in it. Since my health is back, the CD promises to be pretty rocking. Mark’s come up with some good guitar grooves. In fact, he wants to make this album all about hypnotic grooves and not about songs at all. I’ve got my own ideas. There’s bound to be some head butting before we’re done, but I’m hoping we can blend forces.
(Photo by Christine Maass)