Delta Generators

Delta Generators
Blues in Schools - Delta Generators wow students

By Karen Nugent
April 2009

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The Boston Blues Society’s launching of a new Blues In Schools program this year got off to a smashing success.

On March 19, the four-piece Delta Generators took the school auditorium stage to present a musical history of the blues to about 130 middle and high school students, including an advanced placement high school history class.

The band, made up of singer-harpist Craig Rawding, drummer Jeff Armstrong, and brothers Rick and Charlie O’Neal on bass and guitar, went through a near century of blues using printed material and live music.

The 90-minute show started out with the Delta music of Robert Johnson (“Crossroads”) and proceeded to show the kids examples of Chicago, Texas, Southern, and jump blues, ending with early rock ‘n roll.

The band played two songs from each blues genre, usually including one of their originals. I noticed a distinct perking up during Muddy Waters’ “Sugar Sweet,” but nobody recognized an artist’s name until Stevie Ray Vaughn was mentioned.

At the end, as in any real blues show, the guys let some students come up on the stage for a little jam session. Two guitarists, Dan Vanasse and Steve Chase, sat in on “Matchbox.” They loved it.

Rawding explained that blues has no set form, and is very free and expressive. And as in a real blues club, he demonstrated how to shout “One more!” at the end of the night. (Freddie King’s “Goin’ Down” ended the show to huge applause.)

Free MP3 downloads and CDs were given out, and the guys were swamped with autograph seekers even as school was being dismissed.

Meanwhile, in the foyer, the music could be heard loud and clear, prompting the principal, walking back to his office, to comment: “Wow, that sounds great. I wish I could have seen that!”

The show was made possible by a grant from the Clinton Cultural Council, through the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The Blues In Schools program was founded by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation, of which the Boston Blues Society is an affiliate.

The Delta Generators will do another presentation in May at the Tahanto Regional High School in Boylston.

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