Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ode to Fandom: Of Trashcans, Traditions, & The Delta Spirit




The Delta Spirit share stories; but most of all, they share themselves. Gritty and generous, the young California-based band have crisscrossed the continent playing shows for any who’ll hear them, carving an adventurous mythology that matches the more epic aspects of their viral melodies and visionary messages.
Referencing Americana and soul in a denim-pants-and-checkered-shirts package that is undeniably rock and roll, this five-piece breathe a fiery altar call to the sodden glories of the road. From cop troubles to car troubles to stolen laptops, this band has seen it all. Rather than hated as hardship, such travails teach the lessons of a life as lyrical as the band’s poetry. While tales of busking and dumpster-diving make good copy for the awed critics or the awful cynics, with these guys, the legends lack pretense; they’re just part of the daily program. The stuff is so real—too real with spiritual echoes of Springsteen and Steinbeck, made for dirt roads and dive bars. The timeless truths that populate the songs drink from the tap of a pure source.
While some of our favorite bands rarely if ever make it to Nashville, Delta Spirit have given us plenty of their time and have built up a fanbase in the process. Windy, wet, and cold, we welcomed winter much too early to Tennessee this year. Weather or not, we packed ourselves into the car with a special gift for the band, a trashcan lid. Heading to the show, we felt like the lyrics to “Trashcan”: “My love is coming I can barely hardly wait.” During that track, singer Matt Vasquez says he’s found the cure for his own cancer. That Wednesday night, we knew he’d certainly cure our hunger for more great music.
The Mercy Lounge filled up slowly at first, but by the time the second of two opening bands was onstage, the crowd was solid. Nashville’s Canon Blue tore it up with a highly original and percussive blend—brimming with tribal references to new wave, psychedelia, and experimental. By 11pm on a weeknight, we were ready for Delta Spirit to hitch a ride on the train driving directly into our fanboy and fangirl brains.
With “Strange Vine,” they tell the story of planting their own garden—which really defines the entire earthy ethos of the band. Infected with irresistible rhythms and real prayers for freedom, “Streetwalker” solidifies as one of the already timeless classics in the band’s repertoire. As up-front and heart-tugging as each song is on the album Ode To Sunshine, once translated for the urban temples of clubs and bars, the tracks attack the spirit and stick to the gut. Whether he’s smiling or growling, wailing a line or nailing a riff, there’s simply no denying the magic charisma of Matt Vasquez and has compa├▒eros.
From its opening harmonica howl to each and every word Matt emotes, “People, Turn Around” proves itself simply as one of best songs we’ve ever heard. Its intoxicated and churchy qualities inspire fans to wave their arms and raise their beers and sing along really loudly. Its universal message inspires Matt to tell us he’s never meant anything more than he means this song right now, and he doesn’t care how cheesy that sounds. The fans, we believe it. We believe in the images of guns and grades, of needles and snow, of light and love, of blood and a beard, of angels and bones. We believe it so much that we keep singing long after the show is over. We believe it so much, that we’re still singing it now.
Delta Spirit’s debut album Ode to Sunshine was (re)released this year on Rounder Records. Delta Spirit appear to always be on tour. Please visit: http://www.myspace.com/deltaspirit

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