"THIS ALBUM HAS BEEN BREWING IN MY MIND SINCE THE MID-'60s," says Pacific Northwest blues giant Paul deLay of the newly released deLay Does Chicago (ECD 26101). This is his fourth CD for Evidence and his first without his Portland, Oregon-based band (for this project only).
Catalyzed by an August 1997 tour stop in Chicago (his first), the singer/harp-player/songwriter decided to take a one-CD-only hiatus from his regular band, with whom he has recorded nine albums, to return to the Windy City to cut a record that would reflect his love of the city's music, musicians and history. "I couldn't get the city and that sound out of my head. I had only gotten a taste and wanted more," deLay explains.
For his dream project, deLay transported his wit and wisdom from his native Portland, Oregon, to 1316 N. Clybourn in Chicago to record with the locally-based Rockin' Johnny Band (led by guitarist Rockin' Johnny Burgin), with whom he had met and jammed at Buddy Guy's Legends on that initial visit.
DeLay not only wrote a batch of new songs before arriving to cut deLay Does Chicago, but continued writing throughout the recording session, penning typically clever deLay tunes but with a decidedly Chicago style.
First inspired by Paul Butterfield, deLay subsequently discovered Muddy Waters and all his great harpists while a young teen in Portland. Eventually, he would become most influenced by one of them - Big Walter Horton. After playing in various local groups throughout the '70s, Paul assembled the first version of the Paul deLay Band in 1979. While displaying an affinity for Chicago blues, the deLay Band has always mixed jazz and gospel into their sound, which is hallmarked by Paul's virtuoso skills on the chromatic harmonica, a larger and more versatile instrument than the usual "blues harp."
But for this CD, deLay says, "I wanted the record to have that 'old school' feel, and Johnny and I had many similar musical heroes and influences." A special thrill for deLay was the guest participation on two tracks by the legendary Chicago guitarist Jimmy Dawkins. He only knew Dawkins through his guitar solos on an old, scratchy Johnny Young LP on Arhoolie that was a part of the small record collection he had as a teenager. The two had never met until the day they recorded together for this session.
"Between the friendliness of the people I met, seeing my songwriting come alive and getting to meet and work with Zora (Young) and Jimmy - it just all came together!", deLay concludes triumphantly.
Previous Evidence CDs by the Paul deLay Band:
ECD 26091 Nice & Strong
ECD 26079 Ocean Of Tears
ECD 26076 Take It From The Turnaround...
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