Monday, August 29, 2011

Any Womans Blues #13 – Del Rey

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!



  1. I love it when you introduce me to someone I've never heard of. This is great! And I really need to find a resonator uke now.

  2. Hi Roy: Glad you liked this! Yes, as the proud owner of a resonator uke, I can tell you they are a very fun instrument. A good deal in a reso uke is the Recording King--I think the street price is around $300, & they come in concert scale (15" scale, as opposed to 13" soprano scale, which a lot of folks, myself included, find really cramped). Thanks!

  3. I did enjoy it, esp. the first one. Thanks, John.

  4. Hi Banjo52: Glad you liked it! & glad that Del Rey's version of "When the Levee Breaks" came across well despite the poor sound quality of the recording!

  5. This is great -- although I've never heard Del Rey play, I've been invited to uke performances by my old friend Mike Bristow, who sometimes performs with her. I love the the internet has connected two dots in my life!

  6. Hi T: Thanks for stopping by! I believe Del Rey is from your neck of the woods, so maybe you'll get a chance to see her sometime.

  7. John, some friends from the local old-time music community were over to dinner last night, and one of them started talking about Del Rey's studio/apartment. Weirdly synchronous!

  8. Hi T: Sounds like Del Rey is in the air for you! Not a bad thing :)


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