With the release of their seventh album Black Cat Oil, Delta Moon expands upon the sound that has sold an extraordinary number of records and allowed them to play for multitudes of devoted fans the world over in the past several years. The dual slide guitars of Delta Moon’s Tom Gray (who composed the Cyndi Lauper hit “Money Changes Everything”) and Mark Johnson carry the listener deep into the heart of the American South, where sinuous Mississippi blues meets the gritty backwoods twang of Appalachia and winds around a rock-steady beat like kudzu on a barbwire fence. The self-produced album was recorded at Bakos Amp Works, Atlanta GA recorded and mixed by Jeff Bakos. Black Cat Oil is being released by Red Parlor Records in North America.
Black Cat Oil has a raw, earthy sound owed in part to the vintage gear and recording techniques they used. “Most of the album was live with few over dubs,” recounts guitarist/co-founder Mark Johnson. “We decided early to the use upright bass and a very basic set up on the drums with only 3 mics, one on the kick, one overhead and one in the room. Then we build the rest of the sounds around the rhythm section using vintage mics, preamps and outboard gear mainly from the 50s and 60s.”
“The album’s title came from looking at the graphics of old hoodoo medicine labels, which I find fascinating,” founding member/guitarist Tom Gray explains. “We’re not the first musicians to draw inspiration from there. Fleetwood Mac’s original guitarist Peter Green used ‘Hot Foot Powder’ (a Robert Johnson song) for an album title and used a label from an old powder tin as album art. “Walk Out in the River’ has a lot of life and death in it. I’m okay now, but I went through a serious bout with cancer over the last couple years. A close friend also had cancer at the same time. Just out of the hospital, down 30 pounds with a belly full of staples, I played ‘I’ll Fly Away’ on the dulcimer at his memorial service. I tried to put some of all that in the song. ‘Blues in a Bottle’ came to me in a dream. I dreamed some guitarist was discussing the correct way to play ‘Blues in a Bottle.’ I thought, ‘I wish I’d come up with that title.’ Then I awoke and discovered that I had.”
Delta Moon makes music with a strong mix of personalities and sounds and has a live show second-to-none. Net Rhythms calls it “Music as it should be – raw and honest.” It’s gut-bucket Roots Americana deeply steeped in the blues. Initially a chance meeting in an Atlanta, GA music store brought the two founders, Tom Gray and Mark Johnson, together. Tom tried to sell Mark a Dobro out of the back of his van. Tom remembers the girl with Mark whispering, “Let’s get out of here.” Mark didn’t buy the guitar, but the two exchanged phone numbers and soon were playing together regularly in coffee shops and barbecue joints around Atlanta. Mark came up with the name Delta Moon after a pilgrimage to Muddy Waters’ cabin near Clarksdale, Mississippi.
After adding a rock-solid rhythm section, Delta Moon started playing nightclubs and festivals around the South, quickly gathering a wall-full of local “best” awards, including winning the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2003. With much attention from the IBC Award, Delta Moon widened its travels to include the US, Canada, and Europe. In 2007 bassist Franher Joseph joined Delta Moon followed later by drummer Marlon Patton, completing the line up that remains today. The band’s work ethic of constant recording and touring continues into 2012 and beyond with tours scheduled for Germany, Italy, U.K., Benelux, Scandinavia, Canada, U.S. and more.
More about Tom Gray - The American Roots Music Association named Tom Gray 2008 Blues Songwriter of the Year. His songs have been recorded by Cyndi Lauper (including the hit “Money Changes Everything”), Manfred Mann, Carlene Carter, Bonnie Bramlett and many others. Tom was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Virginia and Georgia, but home was always the family farm in the North Carolina mountains. In the 1980s he led a rock group The Brains that recorded two albums on Mercury Records. Originally a keyboard player, Tom picked up his first lap steel guitar in the late 1980s and hasn’t put it down yet.
More about Mark Johnson - While not born in the South, Mark Johnson did grow up in a trailer park in Ravenna, Ohio. His uncle owned a record store, and there was always music in the Johnson home. Mark played guitar in bands all through high school. In the early 1990s he moved to Atlanta, where he formed a band called the Rude Northerners. About that time he abandoned standard tuning and became obsessed with bottleneck slide.