Winners of this year's International Blues Challenge, Atlanta's Delta Moon aren't, perhaps, what you'd imagine a great blues band would be: all-white and with a noticeable NPR-ish vibe. Acoustic guitarist and pianist Tom Gray looks more like someone you'd see reading the Sunday Times at the neighborhood coffee shop than a blues player, his professorial bent confirmed by the revelation that he authored the book Dobro: A Pictorial History. And his otherness in relation to the blues world is underscored by the knowledge that this is the same Tom Gray who led Atlanta's seminal alt-rock band The Brains 20 years ago, for whom he wrote the song "Money Changes Everything," a classic even before Cyndi Lauper made it a hit.
But, in this case, studious and knowing don't equal uptight. Delta Moon come across as a blues version of such roots-centric acts as the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Asylum Street Spankers, except more relaxed and less precious. The clincher is lead singer Gina Leigh, who -- sexy at the right moments and playful all the time -- has a knack for dramatizing the material without overdoing it. Imagine Lucinda Williams without the psychodrama or Marcia Ball as a hipster and you'll get a picture of Leigh's roots-icon potential.
Delta Moon stands out from the contemporary blues pack in so many ways: in the variety, subtlety, and good taste of their repertoire, which ranges from gospel sounds to vintage blues predicated on barrelhouse piano or slide guitar; in their refreshing lack of macho posturing and instrumental showing off, elements that afflict far too many contemporary blues bands; and in their obvious commitment to blues styles that predate the rock and soul of the Sixties. Delta Moon will perform at Rum Boogie CafÇ Friday, September 12th. --Chris Herrington
The Cooper-Young Festival on Saturday, September 13th, promises one heck of a lineup with classical guitarist extraordinaire Lily Afshar, reliable powerpunks The Subteens, bluesman Robert "Wolfman" Belfour, and Memphis soul legends in the making The Bo-Keys. As an added attraction, the Bo-Keys will be backing Eddie Floyd who co-wrote the Wilson Picket smash "634-5789" and scored hits of his own with songs like "Knock on Wood." You could do worse.
Ween, the merry pranksters of rock, are hard to take seriously. Everything they do is filtered through so much irony, the tendency is to just write them off as a novelty band. But that would be the wrong thing to do, my friends. There's much more to Ween than potty humor. To really understand this, however, you almost have to see Gene and Dean play one of their epic three-hour shows. Live, Ween is unable to pull off their studio trickery, and it's under those circumstances that their true genius (or anti-genius, as the case may be) shines through. Ween will be at the New Daisy Theatre on Sunday, September 14th. -- Chris Davis