Here’s another interview from my friend Jamie Hailstone, this time it is Sons Of The Delta
It might be a cliché, but they say the best players don’t choose the music they play. The music chooses them. It’s certainly true of Sons Of The Delta, who have seen their love of the blues take them from the south west of England to the Mississippi Delta and back again as global ambassadors for the genre.
The duo of Mark Cole (vocals, harmonica, guitar and mandolin) and Rick Edwards (guitar and vocals) have established themselves as one of the south of England’s top blues draws and played a host of dates this autumn, including the Swanage Blues Festival in October, as they prepare to record their eagerly-awaited new album.
“You’ve got to love the blues to play it,” Mark says. “You’re picked by the blues to represent it. People say I didn’t choose the blues, the blues choose me. From my point of view, that’s definitely true.”
The band began almost 10 years ago when Mark, who also regularly plays with other bands, put an advertisement in the local newspaper.
“I was looking for a guitarist and listed all the usual suspects, like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf,” he explains. “I was trying to find someone else who was also into this stuff.”
Guitarist and singer Rick Edwards, who had also spent years playing with various blues bands in the Gloucestershire area, answered Mark’s advertisement and the Sons Of The Delta were quickly born.
“Rick’s a great technical player, but he had a lot of soul as well,” adds Mark. “Our styles really complement each other.
“Our first gig was at a local blues festival, which we have in Gloucester,” he says, “We just hit the ground running.
“We started as a duo and we pretty much kept it as that until our second album – MADE IN MISSISSIPPI – which we recorded in the US,” says Mark.
“We decided it would be great fun to go into a studio while we were there and do some stuff as a classic blues combo.”
While they were out in Clarksdale, which is universally regarded as the birthplace of the blues, the two men recruited a couple of bona fide legends – Sam Carr and Pinetop Perkins – to play on their album.
The duo also found time to play a gig at Clarksdale’s Ground Zero blues club, which is co-owned by the Hollywood actor, Morgan Freeman.
“He was not there the night we played,” says Mark. “But sometime after that, we did meet him at the club and had a good chat. It was nice to have a talk with him.”
Since then, the band has made regular trips to the Deep South and earlier this year they played the 2011 Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale.
“There’s a lot of poverty out there,” says Mark. “But in terms of community spirit, they are very rich. There’s a very tight-knit blues community over there. “Everyone helps everyone out. You see the same rhythm sections going out with six or seven guys.
“For me, it feels like a home from home in terms of the friendships we have out there,” adds Mark.
Since their first trip to the US, Mark and Rick have also recruited Adrian Deane on bass and Martin Fitzgibbon on drums for some of the UK shows to help expand their sound.
And the Sons Of The Delta have been steadily building up their reputation in other countries, which are not automatically thought as hotbeds for blues music.
“We’re lucky to have a good agent in Spain,” says Mark. “We get over there two or three times a year. We’re hoping to be back over there in November for a weekend. It’s all good. We found you get a wider age range coming to your gigs in Spain. The kids are less blinkered about they listen to.
“There’s certainly a good live music audience there,” he adds. “I think they tend to pigeonhole their music less. Half of them are blues fans and half are just there because they enjoy going out, socializing and live music.”
The band also experienced a flurry of interest from Columbia last year, after a local radio station began playing their material.
Earlier this year, the Sons Of The Delta released a four track EP, entitled LIVE AND BOOTLEGGED, for free via their website.
“This was in part to keep the fans happy,” says Mark. “We’ve been promising a new album for a while. It’s just taken us a bit longer then we would have liked.”
The songs on the EP were all recorded by fans at various gigs and Mark says they have already attracted a lot of interest from radio stations.
They are now busy working on the new album, although Mark will also be travelling to Canada in the autumn to play some dates with the Myers Brothers Blues Band.
As 2012 and their 10th anniversary fast approaches, the Sons Of The Delta are still taking the blues out there, wherever it needs to be played!