Delta Reign
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Delta Reign

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Entertainment Columnist Lawrence Specker ~
...Time for some local listening...

Friday, November 10, 2006

The second week in November finds me in a familiar place: peering out from behind a stack of local albums that have been waiting for some overdue attention.
Our region tends to enjoy a span of fine weather from late September into early November, and we capitalize by going on a spree of festivals, fairs, concerts, block parties and other outdoor happenings. But while we've been doing that, it seems, many of the area's musical talents have been releasing material they worked on through the summer months.
Now it's time for a listening party. The backlog adds up to more discs than I can get to this week, so rest assured that there's more to come. Up today are a trio of works from veteran area players, a selection that spans the territory from blues-rock to bluegrass to countrified Southern rock.

Reign day
Benita Murphy, the bassist, principal arranger and lead vocalist for Delta Reign, calls it "bluegrass -- but."
It's a phrase that has come up a lot, she said, when she's tried to convince new venues to book the band. As in, "we play bluegrass -- but you don't have to be a bluegrass purist to enjoy it."
It's a sales pitch that should be easier to make now that the trio -- which also features Norman Jeter on guitar and Pat Murphy on banjo -- has its debut album to present as a calling card.
"Down on the Delta" crystallizes "a couple of years of working pretty hard at it," as Pat Murphy summed up the band's career. It also does a fine job of illustrating what band members are talking about when they describe their music as a blend of bluegrass and western swing.
How does that concept work out in practice? You might call it a low-tension version of bluegrass.
Mandolinist Phil Proctor of the Dog River Boys sits in on occasion (and contributes to this album as well), and Pat Murphy occasionally picks up the mandolin or fiddle, but the basic Delta Reign mix consists of banjo, bass and guitar.
Doing without fiddle and mandolin, two high-pitched instruments commonly dominant in bluegrass, means Delta Reign's music has a lower center of gravity, tone-wise. Benita Murphy's vocal range also is lower than the usual "high lonesome" territory.
Trios are a rarity in the bluegrass world -- so much so, the Murphys said, that they are sometimes told by festival organizers that they'd prefer it if the group showed up with a fourth picker. But as is often the case with players in rock and jazz trios, the Murphys said they're drawn to the format because of the space it offers.
Happily, they make that space a part of the music, rather than drowning it out the way a rock power trio might. Delta Reign's tempos tend to be more in keeping with western swing's amble than the bluegrass scramble, Jeter's guitar lines tend to be more lyrical and less percussive than the bluegrass norm.
We come from a background of traditional," Benita Murphy said. "We honor our roots."
But "Down on the Delta" is about a tradition that's all their own. They take some genuine bluegrass standards in unexpected directions, such as a jazzy turn on "Wayfarin' Stranger" and a tight bounce on "Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan."
They also transform some songs that never have been bluegrass standards -- Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," Hank Williams' "There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight" -- and fool you into thinking they might have been. One particular highlight is "Ready For the Times to Get Better," an Allen Reynolds composition that was a late '70s hit for Crystal Gayle.
Aside from the instrumental track that gives "Down on the Delta" its name, this is an album of covers. Now that they've learned the ropes with this effort, recorded at Pat Murphy's own Back Door Studios in Mobile, the Murphys said they're eager to follow up with an album of original material. That might see them heading in a different direction.
"Where we see it going is more Americana," Pat Murphy said. "There's no stereotypes in that genre. Anything goes."
In the meantime, "Down on the Delta" is something to savor, especially for folks who think Lower Alabama should serve its bluegrass with a twist.
The album is available locally at Satori Coffee and Carpe Diem in Mobile, Bay Sound in Daphne and Dr. Music in Fairhope. You also can find it online at www.cdbaby.com and iTunes.
- Mobile Register - Lawrence Specker, Entertainment Editor


CD Lowdown
1. MUSIC | Vol. 6, No. 45, November 9, 2006
(Pensacola’s Most Historic Vote)

Delta Reign
Down On The Delta

Do you like bluegrass? How about Delta-style bluegrass? If so, then you’ll love Delta Reign and their toe tapping, twang inducing, feel-good new album “Down On The Delta.” Comprised of the husband-and-wife team of Pat and Benita Murphy and Norman Jeter, Delta Reign brings to the table a brand of musical fusion not typically found in the tradition-loving bluegrass scene. Their innovative sound is a clever combination of jazz, funk and even jam band instrumentals, which makes them hard to categorize but easy to enjoy.
HOT TRACK: “There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight”
YOU’LL LIKE IT, IF YOU LIKE: Bluegrass with a twist
The Independent News
P.O. Box 12082, Pensacola, FL 32591
Phone 850.438.8115 Fax 850.438.0228 - Independent News ~ Pensacola, FL




Ace of Bass by Sam Baltrusis

BLUEGRASS TRAILBLAZER'S DELTA REIGN

Benita Murphy almost gave up on the love of her life. After hiding in the shadows of the male-dominated regional bluegrass scene in the early '90s, Delta Reign's lead vocalist decided to put away her upright bass for good, so she could focus on her family full-time. The Mobile-based musician says there was little respect for women wanting to jam with the good ol' boys back then.
"I completely turned my back on music to raise my son," she says about her 10-year hiatus from the stage. "I didn't like what I was doing and I wasn't satisfied. Traditionally, women really haven't been real big in bluegrass."
A woman in the genre who wanted to sing? Forget about it.
"I was thrown a few token songs here, but people seemed to frown at the idea of a woman singing," Murphy recalls. "No one really said anything. But you always had the feeling that you didn't quite fit in."
The 51-year-old vocalist says the popularity of contemporary performers like Alison Krauss from the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" helped crack the genre's metaphorical glass ceiling and inspired Murphy to return to her bluegrass roots.
"That movie really helped me to start feeling good about music again," she says about her return three years ago. "All of sudden, women are coming to the forefront and now there are a lot more playing bluegrass and Americana music."
In September 2004, Murphy and her husband Pat (banjo) and friend Norman Jeter (guitar) got together for a jam session that she says "just clicked."
"The energy of all three of us together popped," she explains, describing Delta Reign's sound as traditional bluegrass mixed with Texas swing, bluesy vocals and a dash of jazz. Murphy calls it "bluegrass delta style." "The sound we were able to achieve just took us all by surprise," she adds.
When Hurricane Ivan devastated the Gulf Coast, Murphy says the group harnessed the power of the storm to help fuel Delta Reign's music.
"We all had this feeling that the winds of change had come," she says. "I don't know what it is about hurricanes, but our lives—and our music-—seemed to head in a completely different direction after Ivan hit. We had a similar experience with Hurricane Frederic. It's just one of those mysteries that you can't explain."
As for Delta Reign's televised performance on WUWF's "RadioLive" program, which was taped 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3 at Pensacola's Museum of Commerce, Murphy admits the TV cameras and the anything-could-happen appeal of a live show freaks her out a bit.
"We've done some radio with Delta Reign and I try my best to focus on the music and try to forget that I'm on the radio or TV," she jokes. "I do a lot better with that stuff now that I'm older. I guess I've gotten better with age."
sam@inweekly.net
What: Delta Reign, Cicero Buck and Dread Clampitt at WUWF's RadioLive
When: 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3
Where: Museum of Commerce, 405 S. Adams St.
Cost: Free with food donation
Details: 474-2787 or www.wuwf.org



- Pensacola Independent News ~ Sam Baltrusis



***Here are what some people are saying about “Delta Reign”....


After performing for a packed Saenger theatre at the U.S.M. "Roots Reunion" live radio show in Hattiesburg, Ms here's what Dr. Curtis Austin had to say:

"Delta Reign was a smashing hit with the Roots Reunion audience. The “delta style” bluegrass was a a refreshing change to an audience quite accustomed to hearing bluegrass. When asked on a questionnaire what they liked best about the show a significant portion of the audience said “Delta Reign.” We are always happy when our newcomers get such a wonderful welcome to our lineup and look forward to the time when we can book Delta Reign again!..." Dr. Curtis Austin, Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage ~ (March '08)


Delta Reign blended bluegrass with smooth swing and a jam band vibe that was completely at home on the Thacker Mountain stage. Our audience has become spoiled by the wealth of talent that comes through Oxford, and yet, Delta Reign had them applauding individual solos. Delta Reign combines fine
picking chops with vocal harmonies that are as sweet and true as a shot of moonshine down on the levee...

Jim Dees, host ~ Thacker Mountain Radio, Oxford, MS
*********************************

Delta Reign played the White Sands Music Festival for us this past April.
They did an outstanding job for us. Although they are a fairly recently
organized group they are all established musicians and they blend their
their music together beautifully. I had a lot of good comments from the fans
about them.
I asked them if they could come back the next day and back up the great
Charlie McCoy, of Hee Haw fame, and they agreed. What a Show! They
did a great job, it was like they had been playing with him all along. They will be back for our spring festival...
I highly recommend Delta Reign for any festival or concert, you won't be
disappointed.

Harry Felder
White Sands Music Festival
Chumuckla, Florida
*********************************

“Delta Reign played WZEW’s Second Tuesday concert series and were a big hit! With a great library of bluegrass classics, tight harmonies, and the band’s mastery of their instruments, Delta Reign is definitely one of the Gulf Coast’s bands to see.”

Sean Sullivan, Morning Show Host
WZEW 92.1 “the ZEW”
*********************************


"Delta Reign brings a fresh approach to our music with new tunes, good "pickin" and really nice vocals. They are sure to be crowd pleasers where ever their musical adventures may take them..."

Jerry Williamson ~ audio engineer
*********************************


“Working in a restaurant with live music every night of the week, you tend to get a little hard to please. Delta Reign is one of our staff’s favorite bands... and that is high praise! Their rootsy bluegrass style always pleases our guests; from grandkids to grandparents, everyone dances!...”

Johnny Fisher, General Manager
“Lulu’s” at Homeport Gulf Shores, AL
*********************************


“Delta Reign was the opening act at the First Annual Point of Music Festival at Hub Staceys’ at Innerarity Point. They had everyone clapping and stomping their feet. Delta Reign is a very FUN band...”

Hub Stacey
Owner, Hub Staceys’ restaurants
*********************************


“If you are looking for true bluegrass, look no further than Delta Reign. Delta Reign will leave you begging for more. You will be hooked with unbelievable guitar and banjo riffs. Bring the ‘Delta’ to your next event and you will be 100% satisfied...”

Joe Langley
Director of Campus Activities
University of Mobile
*********************************

“For the past five years my family and I have made our yearly pilgrimage to Perdido Key, Florida to enjoy the beach, sun and seafood. We always include a stop at the Original Point restaurant known by locals as the best seafood on the coast. The seafood was great, but it was the bluegrass they served up that kept us and everyone else coming back for more. Pat and Benita electrified the place with their gulf coast brand of kickin’ bluegrass, connecting with the audience as patrons of all ages would leave their seats, food and drinks and take to the floor and dance. Every visit would end with me having to drag my kids out of the place. I invited Pat and Benita with their band “Delta Reign” to perform at “St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus 2005 Crawfish and Bluegrass Extravaganza.” Over 1600 people found out what me and my family have known all along... “Delta Reign” is awesome If you are looking to book some of our areas best performers, LOOK NO FURTHER!”

Edmond Naman.
Mobile DA office
Bluegrass promoter
********************************* - Reference quotes...


Bluegrass Now Magazine , July issue, 2007 reposted with permission

Delta Reign, Delta Reign Down on the Delta
by Don Kissil



Circumstances being as they were, for a few days I found myself in Mobile, Alabama and that's very far from my home in New Jersey. Down there is where raw oysters, which I love, cost only 25 cents a piece, (they call 'em nude oysters there) while up in NJ, they go for more than 10 times that price.

There, I meet this classical fiddler, Tom Morley, and he says..."If you like bluegrass, you need to hear these friends of mine. I'll send you their CD. It's self produced, and it's good."

So like that famous mandolin player often says "I told you that, to tell you this" ... in between my dreams of nude oysters, here's my review.


Delta Reign consists of only three people. Benita Murphy is on upright bass and lead vocals, her husband, Pat Murphy sings, plays banjo and sometimes fiddle, and Norman Jeter plays guitar and harmonizes too. Their Gulf Coast music fuses traditional bluegrass with Western Swing and features lots of jazzy guitar licks that really stand out. Benita's singing is strong, resonant, deep, clear and ...to my ear, a perfect female bluegrass voice.

She does some nice and different arranging of some traditional tunes like "Darlin' Cory" and "Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan'." Pat wrote a "feel-good" song that reflects his upbringing called "Down on the Delta."

Most notably, instead of crowding their first CD with originals like first albums often do, they include lots of country covers, ("Folsom Prison Blues," "There'll be no Teardrops Tonight" and "I Can't Get you Off My Mind."), some folk, ("Southbound" and "Wayfarin' Stranger,") and even the bluegrass classic, "Train 45." All of this they do in their patented "Delta-Grass" sound.


Norm Jeter provided some outstanding, innovative licks on the guitar. Although they lasted only about one verse and a chorus, they seemed to last much longer---kind of like a jazz player's break.

This is a good first CD and I hope to hear more from Delta Reign.

DK ~ Bluegrass Now Magazine, July issue, 2007 reposted with permission
- Wayne Bledsoe


Pelican ~ March 16, 2007 - March 22, 2007
MUSIC ISLAND

‘Delta trio’ finding audience with blend of genres

Brian Kelly

From Oxford, Miss., to Mobile, Ala., to Gulf Shores, musical trio Delta Reign has been earning a Pleasure
Island following with its hybrid of Southern-based musical genres.
This incomparable trio of veteran musicians continues to make a mark with a label of sound that is not so easy
to pigeon hole. Blending traditional bluegrass with Texas swing, Delta Reign shows no signs of slowing
down. But to understand Delta Reign is to know its members.

Culture of mountain music
In the early 1970s, Benita Murphy was a classic rock ‘n’ roll fan, and back then, she made it her mission to
get tickets to every act that came to her town of Orlando. All that changed when Murphy was dragged to the
Smoky Mountains, where she and her traveling companions happened across a bluegrass festival.
“I had never heard that kind of music before, but I was blown away. All the major bluegrass icons were
performing,” she recalls. “Later, we had all night jams around campfire. The whole culture of the mountain
music was amazing.”
Murphy heeded her new musical calling - bluegrass, and went on to learn the stand-up bass and guitar. For a
time, she and her husband lived and played on the island of Bogue Chitto Swamp in Louisiana, often traveling
the countryside, playing with numerous bluegrass bands, including Appalachian Reign in Washington, D.C.
The Murphy's were living the bluegrass lifestyle, making a name for themselves at virtually every bluegrass
festival.
Then, in 1992, Murphy turned her back on music, and for the next 10 years, she concentrated on her son and
church. It was a time when she, “didn’t even listen to bluegrass music.”

‘Up the country’
Before he was married to his current Delta Reign band mate, Pat Murphy, like his wife, listened to the music
of the 1970s - until he picked up the banjo, that is.
“I didn’t know the first thing about the banjo or bluegrass music, until a friend took me ‘up the country’ to
hear his family. For the first time, I heard the harmony of that music, of that family,” Murphy said. “It had that
lonesome mountain sound that hooked me right away.”
Soon, Murphy was listening to old bluegrass albums, slowing down the RPM speed so that he could imitate
the banjo licking and he recalls when he did the sound for the great Bill Monroe.
After the bluegrass student and Monroe spoke, Murphy never looked back. In time, Murphy would meet a
young musician who asked if he could teach her guitar. Not only did he teach her guitar - he married her.
After some time, Pat and his new wife found themselves in the Shenandoah Valley, “in the thick of the
bluegrass scene.”
“Every little bluegrass band you’d run across had it, like something in the water,” he said. “Having the
opportunity to live and perform in that area, around all those musicians really influenced me musically.”
Following their time there, the Murphy’s moved to Mobile, where his wife, Benita Murphy, suddenly decided
to take time from music. Pat Murphy settled in, playing now and then with different church bands,
engineering other CD's at their studio.
It seemed the Murphy’s all but vanished from the music scene that had brought them together.

Delta Reign and “the swing jazz element”
Were it not for the pure bluegrass band Bubba N’ Them, Delta Reign may not be around.
It was with that Innerarity Point musical fixture of the Original Point Restaurant that Benita Murphy made her
return to the music she had grown to love.
“I ended up staying with Bubba N’ Them until we formed Delta Reign. Playing three nights a week helped
me get my chops back,” Benita Murphy said. “I never did much lead singing, but now I do most of it. I was
lucky to have Robin Kingry of Bubba N’ Them let me stand in.”
Now that the Murphy’s were back on the scene, there was still some element missing, something that would
stand them apart.
Enter jazz and swing guitar extraordinaire Norman Jeter, “who brought chord voicing's and swing rhythms not
usually found in bluegrass,” Benita Murphy explained.
The result - Delta Reign fuses bluegrass with Texas Swing, while combining tight harmonies, some blues and
a touch of jazz. It’s a sound that can be found on their debut CD, “Delta Reign: Down on the Delta,” a
collection of songs that best exemplify this outstanding trio.
Since forming in 2004, the trio has performed all over the Southeast, including Lulu’s, Hub Stacey’s on the
Point and other island venues.
“I’m driven about pursuing my second go in this career, and I don’t want to waste any time,” Benita Murphy
said. “Pat and Norman are ready, too. We just want to follow this path as long as we can and as far as we can
and have fun doing it.”




~Brian Kelly is a staff reporter for the Pensacola News Journal and Pelican news journal - Pensacola News Journal/Pelican


Discography

Delta Reign's new CD is called "Down On The Delta" It is available through CD baby, I-Tunes, various digital downloads and several local retail stores.

Photos

Bio

Delta Reign is a gulf coast band that is cooking up a unique new sound that fuses traditional bluegrass with western swing rhythms, tight vocal harmonies, stirring in some blues, a dash of jazz, resulting in what some are calling "bluegrass...delta style".

Delta Reign is a group of experienced musicians from the Mobile river delta area that got together in the fall of 2004 for a jam. There was an energy and groove that they had together and instantly, they knew that this was to be a new band. So one week later as hurricane Ivan changed all their lives, Delta Reign was formed...

The members are Benita Murphy on rhythm guitar (or upright bass) and singing most of the lead vocals. After performing quite a bit in the 80's and 90's, she opted to be at home with their son. After a ten year hiatus, Benita began performing again in 2003.

Benita’s husband Pat Murphy is on banjo, lead and harmony vocals. Pat has had opportunity to play banjo with several great bands over the years. Together (or separately) , Pat and Benita have been performing bluegrass from Alabama to Maryland and around the country.

Joining them in on fiddle in 2007 is Tom Morley. Tom spent five years playing fiddle with country music artist, John Anderson. Tom was also a Nashville session player as well as having many other musical credits, including performing with swing bands, the Mobile symphony, and his own celtic band,”Mithril”. He currently resides in Fairhope, Alabama.

The newest member of the group is seasoned jazz bassist Dennis Gould from Baltimore, Maryland. He will also be switching over sometimes to do some guitar work for shows. For him, this is a new genre that he is excited to be exploring. Dennis now makes his home in Mobile, Alabama.

Together, Delta Reign members each bring to the table their own background of musical influences that blend together, giving Delta Reign that unique sound that is stretching the boundaries of traditional bluegrass. They released their first CD in September 2006. They are currently writing new material and are in the studio working on another CD. The band is looking to ahead to the future and are excited about where this still developing sound might take them...