I was finally able to attend a gig of one of the bands I had written about in Worcester Magazine, The Delta Generators. As it turned out, they were playing at a new club in Worcester---Beatniks. I’d never been there and according to Craig Rawding, the lead singer of the band, neither had they.
When we arrived, although the band was just starting up, they came “out of the gate” with power, no start-up needed. Within seconds, all eyes were on them and the idle conversations came to a halt. This band had presence. The lead vocalist, Craig Rawding, was clearly the front man but guitar-man Charlie O’Neal and his brother, Rick on bass, were very much in the limelight throughout. And when Jeff Armstrong did his drum solos, it felt like he was the only one in the room, which filled up quickly as the drinks were poured and the tiny dance floor filled.
The Delta Generators played a perfect combination of covers like their opening song “Crossroads;” then “One Way Out” and “I’m Goin’ Down” but included many of their own “crowd pleasers” like the title cut of their latest CD “Hard River to Row.” It was easy to see why this band was selected as one of the top five self-produced CDs by the 2011 International Blues Challenge.
At events like this, I am often torn between shooting video and just plain getting into the moment but this band was visually so exciting that every time I put the camera aside, I quickly picked it up again to capture a great moment on stage.
This night, I was particularly fascinated by Charlie O’Neal’s playing, especially his use of the glass slide to produce some great slide-guitar sounds. I am drawn to gifted musicians who seem to get lost in their music, unaware of the surroundings. I hope it’s not just a dramatic flourish to entertain, not that it should matter. Maybe it’s just humility, I don’t know. I just know that I like it.
Although I’ve noticed this before, when Charlie O’Neal switched guitars, I was curious as to why. When I asked him at the break, his simple answer was that he had different tunings for different guitars. So, rather than taking the time to retune his guitar, he tunes it ahead of time and has it ready and waiting for that song. This common practice for musicians seems practical and the variation certainly adds visual interest for people like me, especially when the guitars are so dramatically different looking.
After the break, things got even more exciting and even more relaxed. The mood in this club was buoyant now that we all knew what to expect. Rawding enjoyed the growing rapport with the crowd when he asked, “Is everybody here…” the crowd quickly roared “Yeah!!!” He laughed and said, “Hold it---I know you’re all here. Wait ‘til I actually ask you the question…(laughing again) ”Is everyone here… having a good time?” That funny little interaction was so typical of the night. Lots of exuberance, fun, and lots of power-playing.
On a personal note:
During one song, when I finally put my camcorder down to get lost in the music myself, I happened to glance around and briefly noticed someone moving along with me to the music. I smiled and, as I looked back at the band, I had a fleeting thought that this person looked a lot like my daughter who lived in New York City AND who I hadn’t seen for some time. I turned to look at her again, thinking, “I wish she was here” and then it HIT ME. She was….
(See if you can see my surprise unfold in this rather dark clip shot from a cell phone)
That unexpected visit plus a little bit of birthday attention from the band made for one great night. Thank you, Delta Generators. You ARE the band to watch…