I have been stalking lessons from mary_wroth, it would seem. Last night I went to the Good Coffeehouse in Brooklyn to see my second Del Rey show this week. Del is not nearly as famous as she should be. You could pile every living blues guitarist you’ve ever heard of on one side of a balance scale, and put her on the other, and they’d all have to be scraped off the ceiling.
She’s a complete master of traditional fingerstyle guitar, but takes it to all sorts of places that the originators of that style — Blind Blake, Gary Davis, etc — never dreamed of. Last night, along with clarinetist Craig Flury, she played hot 20s jazz, two calypso numbers, several mind-bending original tunes, and old tunes for which she wrote new lyrics because she thought the original words were stupid.
She’s a virtuoso player, playing sophisticated jazz fingerings with all sorts of counterrhythms and moving bass lines, all at lightning speed, relaxed and smiling the whole time, or raising an eyebrow at her guitar as if it had considered talking back to her. Her lead playing is mostly beyond my comprehension; if I could play rhythm backing the way she does I’d be happy. Very happy.
Here she is doing a classic blues, and here she is doing a duet with Steve James, a ragtime tribute to many great guitarists including her hero Memphis Minnie.
She doesn’t come out east that often, but if you live in the Northwest, she lives in Seattle and plays around that area frequently. I guarantee you’d enjoy the evening.