Del Rey Steve James with guitar and ukulele

Hillbilly smartypants guitar

Steve James, songsmith and bottleneck guitarist, is “a true Americana hero…his intensity and focus always reminds me of James Coburn’s character in the Magnificent Seven”(Third Coast Magazine).

Del Rey, plays ukulele and is a complex, pianistic guitarist, described as “a combination of Bo Carter and the Andrews Sisters”(Observant Fan).

Live in New Haven

Live in New Haven

These two powerful exponents of American vernacular guitar-playing, have joined forces to make music testament to the hillbilly/smarty-pants/country blues aesthetic. Sharing a sense of humor and a similar manic intensity, their duets are smart, funny and full of instrumental virtuosity. Del Rey doubles on resonator ukulele and Steve James is known for his “noble savage” mandolin style. Longtime colleagues and collaborators at festivals and workshops worldwide, they met in 1992 in Santa Cruz,. Their friendship developed over many years in different places around the world, as they exchanged stories and hot tips in various hotel bars. They kept running into one another, sharing double-bills in Belgium, at the Gloucester Blues Festival in England, until 2001, at the Port Townsend Country Blues Workshop they got serious about playing and recording together. Audiences and critics have responded so favorably that they often play as a duet. With twelve solo albums between them, plus they have recorded a two cds together, Tonight (2004) and Twins (2002). Steve appears on Del Rey’s 2008 Blue Uke CD and Del is on Steve’s Short Blue Stories.

They have enjoyed critical acclaim for their work with singer Maria Muldaur as well. They channel Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe (plus Joe’s mandolin playing brother, Charlie McCoy) on her 2005 release Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul. Recent shows include King Biscuit Blues Festival. Merlefest, Waterfront Blues Festival and A Prairie Home Companion. “Their inventive chops are jaw-dropping and amazing, and they both pay healthy respects to the masters of old without losing their collective musical identities, which embrace a host of old-time genres” (Bruce Willey, Santa Cruz Good Times) “Whoever has had anything to do with acoustic blues over the last 20 years, must have come across the names of Steve James and Del Rey… Concerts by this duo are, of course, unforgettable affairs, simply because these people are human and know what they’re singing about and how to sing it. No studio tricks, no production grand-standing: it’s more like what you hear is what you get.” (Rootstown, Belgium)  “…they sound so natural and authentic that this recording sometimes seems like a time machine.” (Pacific Sun review of “Sweet Lovin’ Ol’ Soul”.)


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At La Java Paris France

At La Java Paris France