Written by Eddie Ferranti
It is rare when we get to cover a gig while on vacation. Just that happened in the form of a southern band by the name of Delta Rae at the cozy cool confines of the Port City Music Hall in Portland, Maine. Before a packed house which featured a reserved section for about 50 folks and the balance standing, the lady dominated group scorched the building with a solid mixture of intoxicatingly good gospel, rock , from the heart soul, and just plain foot stompin country. The band consists of brothers Eric Holljes on piano/vocals, Ian Holljes guitar/vocals, Mike McKee solid drums, Grant Emerson on bass, and special guest Gideon Klein as “jack-of-all trades” on super fiddle/electric guitar. Make no mistake though the two front ladies, Liz Hopkins & Brittany Holljes, bee bopped, jumped on boxes, and brought the crowd to a lathered state over and over!
They blasted into “No Dry Eye in the Chapel” and “Ain’t Love” featuring the gals playing off one another trading leads and showing steamy hot charisma which flowed to the cheering audience like a country disco was going on. This band impressed us with their open attitude toward causes like their promotion on this “Long and Happy Life” tour called “Tickets for Teachers” where they gave away two tics to every gig along the way! Nice gesture. Eric covered Springsteen’s “Out of the Darkness” followed by a super sultry bass beat accompanied by a clackety clack drum which pulsed as the ladies dominated “Hitch a Ride”. Delta Rae really down shifted the show into political issues with the poignant “All Good People” written in the aftermath of the nasty racism on display in America especially at a place of worship in Charleston, SC. The band all gathered around one mike to deliver the touching and heartfelt tune with moving lyrics: “Raise your voice above the raging seas. We can’t hold our breath forever when our brothers cannot breathe.” Another tear jerker was “No Peace and Quiet” about losing someone special.
The rest of the set brought it home like the start with rollicking blasters “Run” featuring Klein’s fiddle blitz and killer “Morning Comes”! Spooky bad ass intro to cover of “I Put A Spell On You” fit these ladies like a glove with fan blowing hair and blowing me back to the 70’s. Fitting that “Long and Happy Life” followed which is what we are fortunate to be enjoying and we’re currently on vacation to prove it! The big mashup Nashville sound complete wth hot chickens, ham and eggs sincerity and versatility has made this band noticed by the Washington Post and New York Times along with big time festivals the likes of Bonnaroo, Tortuga, Austin City Limits, and Lollapalooza. They have been KICKIN it since 2009 at a clip of 100 gigs a year and show no sign of slowing down at all. Got them on our repeat list for sure………God bless our musical lives!
Eddie “Edge” Ferranti
Houston Music Review