Got blues? Want some? I mean real blues. Sweltering hot, sorrow-drenched, deep southern blues. While Los Angeles may have deep musical roots and a rich history when it comes to rock n’ roll, it’s never been known as the mecca of blues—enter Delta Deep. Perhaps best known as guitarist Phil Collen’s (Def Leppard, MANRAZE) new project, he is by no means the only star of the show. Comprised of bassist Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots), drummer/percussionist Forrest Robinson (TLC, India.Arie) and vocal powerhouse Debbi Blackwell-Cook (Luther Vandross, Michael Buble) front and center, this group could easily be mistaken for a Mississippi-grown blues band—as long as you don’t let Collen speak!
Located on Cahuenga between Sunset and Hollywood Boulevard, The Hotel Café certainly exudes the feel of a down and dirty blues bar with its back alley entrance and noticeable absence of red carpets and velvet ropes. However upon entering, it’s not nearly the dump I was hoping for. Were it another time and place, The Hotel Café would be a seedy smoke-filled room basking in the glow of dim stage lights and Lucky Strikes, but this being L.A. and 2015, there are no smoke-filled rooms anymore—use a cigarette go to jail! Launching into their nine-song set with Zeppelin’s Black Dog, Blackwell-Cook grabbed the audience by the… ah… er… ba… throat! And never let go. And while each and every one of these musicians is considered among the top in their profession, she manages to steal the show without even trying. Her exuberant and playful personality, soulful vocals and soaring range make her the ultimate frontwoman. Tearing into such scorchers as Bang The Lid, Burnt Sally and Down In The Delta, it’s obvious why this group of predominantly rockers recruited her for the role.
Collen lends both backing and lead vocals to the band’s sound and his gritty, almost Rod Stewart-esque vocals on Treat Her Like Candy and Black Coffee clearly illustrate his passion for the blues, but it’s his emotion-filled fretwork that establishes him a bona fide bluesman. His picking on songs such as Bang The Lid, Miss Me and Whiskey would make even the late great B.B. King take notice. In fact even his longtime bandmate Joe Elliott had no idea the man was such an amazing blues guitarist. In an interview on RadioScreamer, Collen relayed a story of Elliot’s surprise when hearing him play the blues for the first time and expressing his interest in him bringing some of that to Def Leppard!
With the solid rhythm section of DeLeo and Robinson both participating in backing vocals, Delta Deep filled the club with powerful vocal harmonies that did not go unappreciated by their adoring audience. And while the feel of the entire show was more that of a loose, casual jam session with a roomful of friends, the band was anything but “loose,” but one would expect nothing less from a group of professionals and perfectionists such as them. And while they’re being labeled as a “blues” band, make no bones about it, these cats “rock” with the best of them as was evident on such songs as Shuffle Sweet and Bang The Lid.
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Bang The Lid
Treat Her Like Candy
Down In The Delta