Paul deLay Band

Steve Levine Steve.Levine@CORP.WRGRACE.COM
Wed Jul 23 10:19:12 EDT 1997

As I posted last week, I have been waiting years to see the Paul deLay
Band. I saw them last Friday, at Phantasmagoria (in Wheaton, MD), and
they were definitely worth the wait.

I went to the show with Leo "The Scatman" Aspiras. We got there about
two thirds through Steve James'  excellent opening set. I talked to
Steve a little when he finished. Cathi Norton, expect a call from him
soon! (if he hasn't called already - he said he would).

John Chamberlain was there, and he introduced me to Gloria Pierce, who
came early for the Poconos.  Lots of harp players in the audience, as
expected, including local heroes Bruce Ewan and Doug Jay.

I saw the big harp man himself, talking to local dj and fellow DC Blues
Society director Bill Wax. Bill introduced me to Paul (who was first
taken aback when Bill introduced me as another harp player - he
probably gets tired of the relentless harp-related questions - but
turned out to be very nice and friendly, which I expected). I had a
nice chat with Paul about his harp style.  He said he has chromatics in
several keys and is most comfortable playing in third position (but he
plays in several keys, and doesn't like playing chromatic in first
position). He was very modest about his playing and singing. We also
talked about songwriting too. He was glad to hear that  I was working
on some original material, and he strongly encouraged me to keep
working on writing.

deLay played a long first set - it seemed to be over an hour, maybe an
hour and a half. The band opened with a jazzy instrumental before he
joined them. He played a lot of material from Ocean of Tears and The
Other One,  and a few from Paulzilla (including "I Can't Quit You No"
and "Don't Mean Nothing" - two of my favorites from that album). He
also played a few I haven't heard before, hopefully that means he'll be
doing another album soon. There was lots of variety in that set: jazzy,
keyboard driven numbers; a downhome Chicago blues, with just harp and
guitar; and lots of soul/r&b inspired songs. Almost all of that set was
original material.

I met guitarist Peter Dammann, also on blues-l, during the band's
break. Peter was also very cool, and an excellent player. Did I mention
that deLay has a very talented, extremely tight band?

We left about halfway through the second set (Leo was driving, and
didn't want to stay all night. If they weren't playing at the Poconos I
would have stayed). Paul played some funky stuff in this set -
including one where he  played the bass line on the low end of the big
chromatic. Very impressive (one of the songs by him I've never heard before).

Now for the Gear part - It looked like Big River diatonics in his case,
and several chromatics (which I mentioned before). Astatic mic through
what looked like a Twin, and some kind of effects unit. I'm pretty sure
he uses a delay pedal (or is that a "deLay" pedal? :-), and on at least
one song it sounded like he was using a chorus or octave pedal. He also
had a separate vocal mic he played through on some songs, and he also
used the mic he was singing through to play harp with (mostly when he
played chromatic).

deLay is definitely one of the most interesting and innovative players
out there, and he's an excellent singer and songwriter. He has gone way
beyond imitating the Walters and Sonny Boys, and has an instantly
recognizable harp style and voice. If you've heard him, you know what
I'm talking about. I'm really  looking forward to seeing Paul and his
band this weekend in the Poconos.


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