Interview with Local Artist and Musician Glen DelpitNov 27, 2017 04:41PM ● By Richard Melella
Central California Life Magazine's Marketing Director Richard Melella, had an opportunity to interview Glen Delpit regarding his bands upcoming 30th anniversary show at Fulton 55, the bands longevity, as well as some fond memories of playing at the Wild Blue Yonder- back in the day.
Born in New Orleans, living in California, and recently named Musician of the Year in Fresno Magazine's online poll, Glen Delpit has been mining the roots of American Music with his bluesy and folk oriented slide guitar style for more than 35 years. His vocals have been characterized from Deep Delta to Van Morrison and his original songs have been described as literate and poetic and can take their place with the finest American songwriters. He has opened for many American Music legends such as John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Leon Russell, Brownie McGhee, Pinetop Perkins, Katie Webster and many, many others. He has also shared the stage with many prominent American Roots artists like Dave Alvin, Jackie Greene, Peter Case, Jonahan Richman and the British legend Eric Burdon.
As a solo artist, he has five critically acclaimed cd's out on the Dharma Brand Label:
After the Rain, Been Here and Gone, Catfish River Lullaby, Moon Goin' Down, and High Water Everywhere. Delpit also live concert DVD available titled, Drive it to The Stars. When he is not painting or performing solo he has that other band that is arguably the longest running band still active in Fresno. Glen Delpit and the Subterraneans, have recorded 4 CD’s: Life is Like Shakespeare, Lean Times in the Land of Plenty, Sleepin’ Late on Judgement Day and their 1994 debut record, Blue Deep, Red Wine.
30 years is a long run Glen. Your band’s sound has been defined as Bluesy American Roots Music. Gleaning the best bits of Blues, Folk, Rock, R & B and country into an infectious sound that is all original in content. It's been called "Bluesrootsy Americana Music. What do you attribute to Glen Delpit and the Subterraneans’ staying power musically?
As to our Longevity- A great mix of personalities. We are all easy going even keeled individuals in the band. That, plus the fact that everyone has bought into the idea that we are only going to do originals and it's all my material.
Did the band start out in the 80’s as the “Houserockers?” How did the band come together? Do you recall what prompted the band to change its name?
The band never changed its name. That's a misconception. The Subterraneans started as a side project separate from the Houserockers in 1987. The Houserockers ended as a group in 1990.
Was there a difference musically between the Houserockers and the Subterraneans?
The Subterraneans started as an off shoot because I was writing so much, and the songs had a more lyric driven content and didn't quite fit the Houserockers style. As a lyric writer, I prefer them over the Houserocker songs even though we still do maybe a half dozen Houserocker songs that have stood the test of time.
A lot of local bands play it safe by doing covers and have a lot of fun staying with the covers. The Subterraneans music is entirely original and has continued to hold on to a large local fan base. Was there ever a fear that venues would be limited to the band because you guys weren't playing covers?
I never gave much thought to the venue situation, I was determined to do what we wanted. When we were in the Houserockers we were very popular. At one point our keyboard player (John Suhr) asked me if I had any original songs. We started adding them to our set list until we were doing almost all my originals. We had the luxury of being popular and we took the crowd along with us.
What memories do you have of playing at the Wild Blue? What were some of the other music venues that you played at locally that time may have forgotten? Can you share with us a specific favorite memory of playing at any one venue or event back in the 80’’s 90’s?
The Wild Blue was far and away the best local venue ever. Club Fred was the next best venue to play. I loved the crowds that lined the block to get in at the Blue. The Blue was a musician’s club owned by and made for musicians who played (mostly) original music. My best memory from the 90's was being the back-up band and opening for Bo Diddley in Modesto.
Has the Live music scene in Fresno changed over the years? What trends do you see? Are these changes for the positive?
Less places to play now. There’s a lot of restaurant type places but no stage, lights or sound. There are a lot of cover and tribute bands now. It’s easier (for bands) to reach people thru social media.
As a noted artist, and a musician how does the creative process work for you? Where do you draw your inspiration for song writing from? Does the energy and creative inspiration of one art form ever blend into the other; or are they distinct?
I draw inspiration from everywhere. Whatever I read or see or hear. My two art forms don't generally blend with the exception that I have a number of paintings that represent early American Blues artists.
Working as a visual artist/painter and as a musician/songwriter- of the two art forms which is more of a challenge for you as an artist relevant to the creative process? Is it easier for you create a piece of visual art or to write an honest blues song?
That’s a tough question. I must wait for inspiration to do either. I don't just sit down every day and write or paint. When the inspiration strikes then I find it easy to produce work in either genre.
Lyrics or music first? What is typically your song writing process?
Lyrics or music first. Hard to say- the inspiration comes both ways. Maybe 70 percent lyrics first /30 percent music.
Is there anyone specific who mentored or encouraged you through the process of songwriting? Who were your songwriting influences?
Good songwriters borrow from other songs. Great songwriters steal from the greats. I've been influenced by everything around me. But of course, if it wasn't for Bob Dylan I don't think I would have written much. I stole from early Blues artists like Robert Johnson, country greats like Hank Williams and many others.
Please tell us about the Bands latest project.
We're revisiting some songs that we play live but have never recorded.
Since all bands were once a startup band, can you give any smaller or local bands looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?
Play as much as you can and learn your craft as well as the history of American music
On Sunday, December 3rd at 6:00 pm. Glen Delpit and the Subterraneans will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary at Fulton 55. Besides some great music is there anything special planned for that night
CMAC will be filming the evening to use as a documentary. It will be a documentary focusing only on the Subterraneans. Hopefully it will show at some time locally on PBS or Cable.