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Delta Jets - Live

Self Release - 2010

12 tracks; 48.02 minutes

The Delta Jets come from Wisconsin and this live CD was recorded summer 2010 in the Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee. The band members are Dale Anderson on guitar, Jody Vanesky on harp and David Will on drums and washboard, with all three singing. Most of the music was composed by Dale (whose recording career goes back to the early 1990s), with Jody contributing one song and three covers. The instrumentation would suggest acoustic, but the sound is very upbeat. Dale plays electric and resonator guitars and the drums or washboard keep the rhythm buzzing. For example Jody’s tune “Spinnin’ My Blues” has a definite Bo Diddley meets Little Feat feel, with plenty of exciting harp work and a ‘sudden stop’ ending and “Pretty Little Woman” which follows is an attractive number celebrating a chance encounter with the woman of Dale’s dreams, a very catchy piece.

The covers are well chosen, the CD starting with a fine interpretation of Skip James’ “I’m So Glad” which does not take Cream’s version as a starting point, preferring to adapt a rather eerie opening to the song, shimmering slide guitar and harp taking us along to the start of the song proper which is taken at a fast pace, the drummer setting the pace well. I thought that this was a really good start to the CD, immediately demonstrating all three musicians’ talents in equal measure. Muddy Waters’ early career song “Can’t Be Satisfied” is often covered, but I liked the introduction in which the band locates Muddy’s song in a gambling/juke joint where Muddy is playing and hears about a lucky gambler who has a ‘mojo hand’. There is a kazoo here too and washboard/slide, plus a country feel harp solo, a nice take on the song. The third cover is Leadbelly’s “Good Morning Blues”, the shortest cut on the album, taken at a jaunty pace with the vocal sung through the harp mike, not a technique that I particularly enjoy but the harp playing is again very good.

The remaining songs are all Dale’s and offer a good range of styles, from the relaxed country blues of “Baby Loves You” with very high pitched harp accompaniment to the tragic tale of loss of young lives contained in “Convertible Buick”. The vocals on “Mister, Mister” recall Dylan and “Sylvester’s Rag” is a feature for Dale’s guitar picking on the resonator, backed by the drums and subtle harp doubling the melody line - I enjoyed both these cuts a lot.

The final trio of tunes starts with “I’ve Had Enough”, a humorous ditty about a broken relationship: “She said she gonna leave, I said it can’t be soon enough – I’ll get along without her, baby it ain’t that rough”. “T’Bone” is another upbeat blues instrumental with plenty of harp action. The CD concludes with “Midnight Sun Blues” where the vocal is again distorted, but not through the harp mike as that is in use at the same time. This was probably my least favourite track and as the track rather peters out with some on-stage banter I found it a slightly disappointing end to the disc.

Overall I found this an interesting CD with some very good tracks and a couple that impressed me less. I imagine that the Delta Jets would be a good band to see live, especially in a small venue.

Review John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He was recently on the January 2011 Legendary Blues Cruise.

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