This month’s lesson: Music education on a couple of new releases
By Dr. D. Jackson Maxwell
The articles I usually write deal with educational issues. However, all of my life I have had a fascination with music. While I have repeatedly tried to play instruments, I never succeeded — unless you count picking out the notes of “Yellow Submarine” on a guitar, a true musical accomplishment!
Anyway, despite these failures I have maintained a close association with the music business. I worked for years as a DJ on an alternative radio station, collected 2,000 vinyl records and CDs, promoted numerous bands, some who even cut record deals, and on occasion served as a reviewer. Today, I would like to tempt you to bend your ear and give couple of local bands a listen.
First, I would like to reintroduce the Delta Nomads. I previously reviewed this band in this publication when they released their exceptional debut EP “If I Had A Nickel.” Among a strong contingent of Southern-tinged roots rock songs, in my mind, “Gossip Queen” was the standout and quickly became a fan favorite at live shows. The band is headed by Bill Walsh, who does the yeoman’s work on writing the music, lyrics, guitar and lead vocals. Chris Cooper handles the on-stage flash as lead guitarist. Greg Young as percussionist has a bag of tricks that goes way beyond the traditional drum kit to include congas, chimes, cymbals and harmonics. In fact, at any time you are likely to see him having a great time playing whatever he seems to most recently have found at a yard sale. The supremely talented Jeff Rust takes on bass guitar, backing vocals and production duties.
All of this brings me to the Delta Nomads’ latest CD, “Fully Loaded.” The new release is a more in-your-face, fully developed, musical rocket ride of rock-n-roll fun. The band and its sound fondly reminds me of the classic bar bands of my youth. While the stylings are reminiscent of the ’70s, the characters that inhabit the songs are both modern and timeless. Check out the persistent “B-O-Y” lyric in the raunchy “Let ’em Slide” as he tries to convince a hoped conquest to loosen her unmentionables, or how about the feared “Old Man Fate,” who is always looking for another victim, or the brilliant ode to “Tyrone,” the doomed one-hit wonder. There are also plenty of silky-smooth horns, keyboard runs and guitar noodling to keep you coming back. You can find the Delta Nomads’ CD at Goner Records in Cooper-Young, Shangri-La Records on Madison or online at cdbaby.com.
The second artist I would like to introduce is Steve Harris. His beautifully packaged debut CD is titled “Somewhere Between,” and is co-produced by himself and Jeff Rust of the Delta Nomads. The effort is the result of years of work with some of the songs being written two or more decades ago. The music is best described as jazz and reminds me of some of the classic Windam Hill releases. While the album is sprinkled with guest artists, the guitar work of Harris is what stands out. Breezy numbers like “July ’68” and “Somewhere Between” put the mind at ease. The artful interplay of instruments on tunes like “Palomino Play” and “Merry Go Round” tantalize the ear. The music is peaceful yet provocative. As my son put it, the songs and melodies remind him of being at “a high class dinner party complete with candelabras.” Steve Harris’ music can be heard and purchased by song or in total on Distantlightning.com.
I encourage you to check out these musicians’ websites and give them a listen. You can also support local music by attending a show. While Steve Harris is not currently performing live, the Delta Nomads are a staple around town, turning up almost monthly at the Buccaneer Lounge on Monroe Avenue and other Midtown venues plus playing at local and regional festivals and fairs.
(tagline at end) Dr. D. Jackson Maxwell is an educator and freelance writer. If you have questions or comments, he can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org