Sorry we’re a bit behind schedule today, but Happy Monday, & welcome to this month’s installment of Any Woman’s Blues!
I’ve been planning to write a feature on guitarist-uker Del Rey for this series for some time. Now, you may not be familiar with Del Rey’s work, but I’m happy to introduce you—& you’ll see this series would be incomplete without her inclusion.
First, Del Rey is an extremely accomplished blues guitar player; she also happens to be a fantastic uke player too, & regular readers know I have a soft spot for that instrument; Del Rey has done instructional guitar & uke videos for Happy Traum’s Homespun Music. In addition, Del Rey herself has been a tremendous force for increasing all of our knowledge about the role of women in American music thru both her “Women with Guitar” & her “Women in American Music” series; Del Rey has brought these presentations to colleges, universities, folk societies & more. Del Rey is particularly keen on the music of the great Memphis Minnie (see her version of “When the Levee Breaks” below), & she also has arranged jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams’ “Boogie Mysterioso” for solo guitar!
The problem I kept running into is that there’s a shortage of Del Rey videos on YouTube—a sad situation, as she is an extremely talented performer—not based solely on her formidable instrumental chops or her strong & clear singing, but also on the more intangible qualities that make a musician into an entertainer. Witty, informative & evincing joy in the music she clearly loves, Del Rey shows an engaging onstage presence. But while I'd have preferred more videos to choose from (& admittedly, the sound on "When the Levee Breaks" isn't ideal), I decided not to wait, but to go ahead with a feature on this wonderful performer.
Del Rey has issued around a dozen cds on Hobemian Records, Southern Records & Kicking Mule. She also tours, so be sure to catch her if she comes thru your town.
As far as instruments go, Del Rey favors resonators, & her performing guitar, which is parlor size, & her performing uke (concert scale) both were crafted by luthier Ron Phillips. Her playing is remarkable for a clear, clean, singing tone & her fingerpicking on both the guitar & the uke is intricate & melodic.
Hope you enjoy the music!