The first time I had the pleasure and privilege to see the Delta Generators live was at The Bull Run Restaurant and I was left quite startled, having not had the chance prior to see them since I moved to the region I couldn't believe that I'd stumbled onto pure gold. How is it that this uniquely New England force of nature is not hitting the news every night for blowing the walls down at every venue they touch?
A mixture of Blues and Roots with a hard driving guitar that will hold you enthralled from the first note.
With Charlie O'Neal on guitar, Jeff Armstrong on drums, Rick O'Neal on bass, and the latest addition Brian Templeton on vocals and harmonica.
Charlie has a unique feel in that he can take his guitar seamlessly from one genre to the next, sometimes in the same song, and it never feels forced. He is able to pull some amazing melodies out of his guitar and drive them right into your heart, full of soul and on just the edge and shredding, and then shredding but still full of soul. It's an intriguing blend. He can take what you would think of as a standard guitar melody and turn it into a slide guitar piece that you'll wonder how and why it wasn't originally recorded in that manner.
Paired up with his brother Rick, on bass, they strike a beat and melody that is easily a feel good rocking song. Rick is gifted in his ability to take his bass through the paces on a rocking tune and then slide it smooth and steady into a haunting slow blues song such as The Night Of The Johnstown Flood. It's clear there is some serious talent in the O'Neal genes.
Jeff is a powerhouse on the drums. He can match the hard driving Charlie note for beat and sync up with Rick all at the same time. The mesh between Rick and Jeff is exactly what you look for in a fantastic rhythm section, tight and complementary. He projects as equally comfortable in soft slow blues and into the fast jump roots boogie Blues and then right back around into the funky.
These three musicians are of the caliber that inspires us amatuers to keep trying to grow and learn.
The newest member of the band is Brian Templeton and with him he brings years of experience from his previous band, The Radio Kings. His soulful voice will draw you in and take you on an emotional journey through each song. Clearly an artist who puts his full heart into each song, opening himself up right there on stage for all to see. On top of that, the guy can play a mean harmonica! That rough and dirty sound that matches so well with the electric blues. Bringing a bit of Chicago into a sound that could at any given moment be in English, funky, delta, or Texas Blues. Equally making it sound right at home in the broader Americana songbook.
The first time I heard Johnstown Flood i was absolutely rapt with fascination of the story and music. The haunting melody tied with Brian's full hearted and throated vocals left me teary eyed by the end, and I can't help but to tear up a bit anytime I hear it. Johnstown is one of those songs that quickly becomes a favorite for anyone who truly appreciates depth in their music.
Flip that on its head and you've got The Devil Gun, while still not at full speed you are truly in a different realm. With a grinding harp and a beat that is infectious you almost don't expect the guitar melody that will sneak in and carry you away while you aren't looking.
Shifting gears yet again is Straw Dog Strut. A fine blend of roots blues and modern blues slammed together into something beautiful. It's one of those songs that is absolutely perfect with which to get out of your seat and dance away the night.
That's just three songs out of one album that you get to enjoy live. They will take you on a tour of their history that has lead them to play with artists such as Sonny Landreth, Three Dog Night, Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughn, Walter Trout, John Lee Hooker Jr, Johnny Winter, and many many more!
Winners of the Boston Blues Society Challenge in 2008 and placing Top Ten in the International Blues Challenge of 2009, they have refined and grown better and better like a fine whiskey.
The Delta Generators are easily a favorite band that I will take any opportunity to enjoy that presents itself. (And so should you!)
Having had the chance to sit down and interview the guys earlier this year, you quickly see that they have a passion for music, not just for the Blues but all music. They are able to see the beauty and fun across the genres, but they really shine in their Roots and Blues groove.
Their most recent album, and the first with Brian featured, is Live At The Spire. It's a relaxing and fun listen start to finish and if you love the current incarnation of the band, you'll truly appreciate this album. But don't overlook their past work with Craig Rawding providing vocals as well. You won't regret the cost of admission to see such craftsmen of music.
*This review was not solicited by the musicians or venue.