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Del Rey!

Yes, I'm a Del Rey groupie. Last night I went to the Good Coffeehouse in Brooklyn to see my second show this week -- even though Bruce Molsky was playing at Jalopy and Trip and Emily were opening.

Del is not nearly as famous as she should be. You could pile every well-known living blues guitarist 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, 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.


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