May 28, 2024

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CD review: Delta By The Beach – Doc Ventura – The Single of the Month – 2023: Video, CD cover, buy direct

California blues outfit Delta By The Beach vibe like the most lowdown jukebox in town on their new full-length release The Single of the Month.

The album title refers to the one-song-a-week-for-a-year recording project that brought Delta By The Beach into existence and also to the choice to craft tight, short songs that might be found on a vintage record machine. Band members Doc Ventura (bass, lead vocals), Milo Sledge (guitar), and Eddie Layman (drums) are a small-but-motivated crew that makes rough-edged blues music for modern ears. They’re the kind of band that really will help keep the blues alive by not letting it turn into museum music but by keeping it charged up with the energy and humanity of its own time.

What they’re doing must be working because the group is closing in on a cool million Spotify streams and rocks hundreds of live gigs every year. Their authentic Mississippi juke joint style has connected with fans all over the world and demonstrates the eternal relevance of this music.

The songs contained on The Single of the Month are a lively assortment of small-band blues designed for hip-shaking and heartbreaking. The opening cut “Bad Deed” is a razor-sharp Chicago blues with a Muddy Waters feel and an expressive lead vocal from Doc Ventura. Right away, it’s clear that this is lights-out hard music for hard times that tells real, human stories. The shuffle groove, alone, will hit you dead-on at the end of a tough day and pull your pain to the surface, as real blues has always done.

The mid-speed “Give Me Back My Tears” expands on the Jimmy Reed style with tough emotions and a big riff. Still, the sweetness of the beat comes through and will soon have you swaying with its rough-hewn charm. Ventura and Sledge are a solid pair up front, capable of weaving rhythmic spells that mesmerize and fascinate. This isn’t shredding, contemporary blues but the stripped-down, dangerous sound that turned us all on in the first place and it’s glorious.

“Tired Of My Luck” is way cool garage/blues/funk done right and sounds like a night spent out back drinking and jamming to old records on a single speaker. We can all relate to the title sentiment in one way or another and Ventura delivers his vocals in a way that will make you understand. Sledge’s guitar tone here is sharp and dirty in the best way possible and fits the tune’s atmosphere perfectly.

All of The Single of the Month will make blues fans happy. It’s a wonderfully energetic record that plays to the core strengths of blues music and refuses to pose or pretend. Delta By The Beach needs to be on your screen right now so you can dig into gems like “1000 Tears” and “You Made A Mistake” without delay. You want the blues? You got ‘em! Highly recommended.  – By Mike O’Cull

Delta By The Beach, as the name suggests, play Delta-influenced blues from their base in California. The band is led by Doc Ventura who writes most of the material and handles vocals and baritone guitar, aided by Milo Sledge on guitar/harp and drummer Eddie Layman. Although a trio the instrumentation is varied with a number of guests also adding to the musical palette.

The three guys got together for what was intended as a single event, but rehearsals showed that they enjoyed playing together, the problem being that there was nowhere to play at the time due to Covid. The concept of recording a track each month and streaming it was enormously successful and here we have the songs from that project united into one album, consisting of those twelve tracks, released monthly through 2021.

The album is in chronological order of the singles’ releases, so we start in February 2021 with the trio in Chicago mood, Doc’s gruff vocals adding to the Howling Wolf vibe of “You Did A Bad Deed”. The pace drops for “1000 Tears”, echoey guitar and vocals, Doc’s baritone guitar doing everything that a conventional bass would do and Milo adding some tough picking and a little harp too. Mandolin player James Schulfer joins in on “How Do You Treat Me Like You Do”, a stop-start rhythm with harp and mandolin featured, while “Tired Of My Luck” goes back to the trio format, Milo playing some varied stuff over a steady rhythm; Doc plays harp on this one, sounding rather distant and thin in the mix.

We reach the June single and alto sax is added to “Need Your Squeezin’” by Robert Kyle, Milo on slide over a slinky rhythm, a track that adds an element of funk to the proceedings. “Give Me Back My Tears” brings the distant-sounding harp back over a chugging blues in which Doc is clearly unhappy that his girl has left him and “Baby You Got What I Need” has the loping rhythms of a Jimmy Reed song with a noticeably clearer vocal from Doc, making you wonder if some of the earlier tracks employed some distortion on the vocals. “You Made A Mistake” has slide and acoustic guitar on an uptempo country blues.

The final tracks cover October – December. “Delta By The Beach” is a stripped-back tribute to the band’s coastal base with guest Flattop Tom on the harp, David Gorospe’s organ adds a gospel feel to the slow-boiling “Wanted Man” and “She Did It” builds up a good head of steam. The band clearly felt that the album would not be complete without a Christmas song and give us the cheerful, upbeat “Very Best Christmas This Year”.

The album presents a record of a laudable project over 2021 which was surely well appreciated by listeners and viewers in a year when everyone needed some cheer.

We had fun creating this Christmas song. I have always been a fan of the Holidays. The chance to make our own contribution was more than I could resist. Also the decision to release on green vinyl gave a nostalgic emotional fulfillment. We loved recording it in a tiny loft above a big studio because the closeness of the room helped us to groove. By comparison, our first album ‘The Single of the Month’ w as a restrospective of collection of twelve songs that we wrote, recorded and mastered and released, one per month. With ‘Kringle’ just having to only focuts on one recording was like taking a mini-vacation!

We had a blast doing the cover art. We knew we wanted something amusing, but it’s hard to create that moment and I’m proud that we pulled it off. We have been working on a new album for quite a while, some say too long! We recorded about 20 original songs and have picked the best dozen. We have played festivals and travelled to Mississippi a few times and were greatly inspired by the current ‘liveing blues’ scene there. We like artists like Jesse Cotton Stone who are forging a much heavier blues sound, influenced naturally by some rock sensibility. I say ‘naturally’ because the younger generation of blues musicians have grown up with the blue-rock hybridization as a fact, not a theory. We have absorbed this and were able to evolve our sound toward some rawer stuff. Of course, we still fall back into playing some California West Coast styles. After all it is our natural habitat. Local players such as the great R.J. Mischo and Frank ‘Paris Slim’ Goldwasser joined us on some cuts and that keeps us grounded in our regional pocket as well as exploring modern Delta.

My 20 years of trawling through Mississippi left me with a mountain of photos and videos of blues artists. I decided to develop a one-time-only show at our local Performing Arts venue. It was my retrospective photo tour through the state, accompanied by some live performance examples. I tried to find guys that had the feeling. There was one player in the area that always struck me as being marinated in the Mississippi country blues style, without ostentatious artifacts. Milo Sledge was my first selection for the show band.

Our first choice for a drummer wasn’t able to do it so he recommended Eddie Layman who had just hit town after 30 years as an expatriate playing jazz in Singapore! He had played the famous Chitlin’ circuit, backed several Hammond B3 shufflers so he was in right away. He can name and play at least a dozen or more types of shuffles among other things. Muddy Waters always preferred a jazz drummer for blues and so do I. So, the one-time-only band decided to stay together and that is Delta by the Beach,- an interview with me said Blues bassist and lead vocalist Doc Ventura of Delta By The Beach.

We recommend that you definitely own and enjoy this wonderful CD.

Buy from here – New CD 2023

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