L.A.’s Delgado Brothers to Bring Latin Blues to River City Blues Festival< < Back to
The Delgado Brothers have been playing music together for decades, having developed a very strong and passionate fan base on the West Coast. On Saturday, March 16, the band will visit Marietta, OH for the very first time, to play the 28th Annual River City Blues Festival. WOUB spoke with Joey Delgado about the band’s long and winding journey, and coming to the east coast.
WOUB: So, I know the The Delgado Brothers have been playing music together for decades! Could you tell me more about that?
Joey Delgado: Well, there are 11 family members, all siblings, and six of them are boys, and all of them have been musicians for as long as I can remember. My older brothers were a part of the East L.A. rock ‘n’ roll scene – back then everybody had a band, and there were probably five or six bands per dance and two to three dances a week. It was a lot of fun! I always say that instead of joining gangs back then, kids joined bands, and that was their little clique. As long as you could fit the entire band, members and gear, into an early model Chevy, you were good to go. And that was my inspiration growing up, seeing my older brothers rehearsing in the living room. I didn’t really know any other way. My young brother, Stevie, was very athletically inclined, so he was really the only one that had an alternative! My older brothers were in The Exotics and The Amber Tones, and after they came back from their time in the service, I was about 12 or 13. It was around then, in about 1970, that we first started The Delgado Brothers. Five brothers were in that band, and we were a standard top 40 cover rock band for about a decade before we broke up. Then, my brother Bob, who was in the original Delgado brothers, wanted to start a blues version of The Delgado Brothers, and we’ve been together ever since.
JD: I know! It’s kind of crazy. We released our first album in 1987 on HighTone Records, it was an exciting time for us. We thought we had made it at that point, but it was 1987, and all of that didn’t really work out, but we learned a lot about the music industry. After our release on HighTone, we started to self-produce and record records, and it was the era when everyone was doing that since the record industry had fallen out of favor because so many people were getting ripped off. The only way to make money back then was to go on the road, but when we first released an album we all had young children and our day jobs, so that was kind of impossible to go on the road even though that is what HighTone encouraged us to do. But, in hindsight, I feel like it worked out great because the content of our music is so much better than it would have been if we had been out on the road trying to eek out a living.
“I always say that instead of joining gangs back then, kids joined bands, and that was their little clique. As long as you could fit the entire band, members and gear, into an early model Chevy, you were good to go.” – Joey Delgado of The Delgado Brothers
WOUB: So, it sounds like your career has been difficult at times, but I know that the band won the 2016 International Blues Competition, and you all have a really enthusiastic fan base.
JD: Yeah, in hindsight of course there have been times of struggle, and we would love to have more success, but I’m sure that everybody would like more money and more success and more recognition. But we do have a rabid fan base that comes to see us perform no matter where we are playing. And so we just need to build that audience by a couple million and we’ll be good! *laughs*
WOUB: What does it feel like to have a small, but rabid fan base?
JD: It’s really hard to explain because it feels so natural to us to have them attend our shows; and whenever we release an album they are first in line to buy it and they tell all their friends. I produced the last record, Two Trains, which came out last year, and the hardest part is — while I’m confident and I love the record — it’s just getting the word out. So when we have an opportunity like this to travel to Marietta and perform for a whole new audience, it is exciting for me because I really feel that they will enjoy it and that we will make some more friends.
WOUB: So, how do you personally define blues?
JD: Well the thing about the Delgado Brothers Band that I am very proud of is that I don’t consider us a traditional blues band. If you want to put us in a category, we are more like contemporary blues. We are totally inspired but the original greats, but it has never been our goal to duplicate or replicate or be a cover band of the blues. We take our inspiration from the traditional blues greats like B.B. King and John Lee Hooker, and we mesh it into what we want to perform; what do we want to hear; what do you want to hear — whether you call it blues our whatever doesn’t matter to us. But they continue to hire us for blues festival and we do our thing and people love it, so I’m okay with that!
The 28th Annual River City Blues Festival is taking place in The Lafayette Hotel (101 Front Street, Marietta, OH) Friday, March 15 through Saturday, March 16. For more information call Helen Holt 304-615-7997 orPeggy Bolen 740-376-0222. Ticket prices: Friday Night $30, Saturday Afternoon $30, Saturday Night $40; Weekend Pass $85.