Atlanta-based blues and roots rock band Delta Moon has a European tour coming up in spring 2017, visiting nearly 30 venues and presenting their new album, “Cabbagetown.” Bottleneck and lap steel guitar players Tom Gray and Mark Johnson are looking forward to sample some local vegetables...
Delta Moon already did a long European tour in spring 2016. What do you recall especially?
Tom: First of all, I remember the wonderful audiences we had everywhere we went in Europe last spring. I enjoy meeting good people, and we've met a lot. Last year we traveled to a few places that were new to us, like the Dolemites, Trieste and several Balkan countries. Over the Easter holidays we had some time to play tourist there, and that was a tremendous experience. We are looking forward to seeing some old friends in Germany again in a few weeks, and, I hope, making some new ones. We should be just in time for spargel, right?
Right! So how did the band's name Delta Moon come about?
Mark: When I first moved to Atlanta, I took a trip around the South in my VW van with my girlfriend Jennifer, who is now my wife. We went in search of Southern music and culture. We went to Nashville, then to Memphis and finally to Clarksdale, Mississippi. These are places I had never visited, I am from Ohio. But I grew up listening to this music and wanted to see where it originated. After visiting the Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi, we drove out to Stovall Plantation to visit the cabin that Muddy Waters grew up in. We watched the sun go down and while driving away, a huge harvest moon came up over the horizon. I took it as a sign. Delta Moon, that’s a good name for a band!
What does it mean to you?
Mark: Now, it means blues music taken as far as it can go.
So how would you describe Delta Moon's signature sound?
Tom: A big part of Delta Moon's sound comes from the two slide guitars, one bottleneck and one lap steel style. Not many bands attempt this, and Mark and I have worked out ways to play together so that it doesn't sound like a cat fight. In doing that, we've come up with a sound that is distinctly our own. But that can't be all there is to it, because there are several songs on this album in which only one of us plays slide. Mark and I play some standard guitar, Mark plays lap steel, and I play piano on several tracks. But still it comes out sounding like Delta Moon. I guess that's just who we are. We can't sound like anyone but ourselves.
When visiting 'Cabbagetown', can we expect something new?
Tom: We've tried to stretch out some on this album and try some new things. As I said, we've been experimenting with instrumentation, using whatever seems right for the song. Also we're doing more co-writing as a band. I wrote the first four songs on the album -- I'm always writing songs, it's like a nervous habit -- and we revisited the Son House classic "Death Letter", but half the songs on the album were co-written by the whole band together in the studio. And we're featuring Franher Joseph's rich bass voice more and more.
Photo Credits: (1)-(3) Delta Moon (unknown/website).