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Paul deLay, thoughts and feelings

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Jan 14, 2009 9:34 AM GMT
Now it's almost 2 years since big P has left to play the "great gig in the sky". My impression is that the one I consider the most innovative player and musician of our time is commonly under-rated among harmonica players.

To me he was an enormous harmonica player, singer and songwriter. The whole band sounded like no one else does today, but still when it comes about doing some harmonica talk, well, everyone seems to forget him.

The sound he had both with amp or without, the dynamics in his sound, the way he approached music and the way he was able to break and change the groove in the middle of a solo it's second to none in my opinion.

To all these skill you can add a voice that was bigger than him and the ability to write lyrics that went far away from the old blues standard. Guys, the man played music in the broader ( or wider? forgive my english guys... ) sense of the word.

And here's another rock in our ponds: we speak about harmonica techs and specs, scales, amps, mikes and all this stuff. Sometime I have the sensation that the whole harp community is a little bit "nerd". Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to insult anyone or to generate a flame in this forum. Sometimes I'd like to see more discussion about MUSIC or songs, or new ideas or new lyrics and stuff.

We should be artists before being harmonica players or guitar players or something else...

Ok, it's up to you now ;)

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Comments (18)

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Jan 14, 2009 11:32 PM GMT
Doc M Replied:

I agree, a master writer, singer, and harmonicist who we lost long before we were ready...

Jan 15, 2009 6:43 AM GMT
Civet Cat Replied:

Manilo: Your on the money on every account! I always list DeLay as one of the greatest when ever I get a chance I wrote a short blog about him and I did know him right after his death it can be viewed at: . So I couldn't agree more.
Gear is cool and is important on some levels but your right on with everything. I sincerely hope you become an active member of this community as I think you speak with command, knowledge and authority! Rock on

Jan 20, 2009 9:37 PM GMT
Frank V Replied:

I just want to chime in on the worth of Paul deLay. You are right that for the amazeing way he had with both short and long harps that its sure seems like he should be much more well known.

Paul was from my town and I feel fortunate to have been able to see and hear him play on many occasions. He had a great sense of humor and was great with talk too.

My best delay story is when I called my bass player to let him know that for the first time in seven years of our band, I would have to miss an already scheduled gig because of an urgent family matter.

My bandmate didn't take the news very well and responded that the professional way for me to handle the situation was to find a replacement for myself of equal or greater talent on harp and vocal.

After I got off the phone (I was a bit irritated at his lack of understanding) I got to thinking....why not go all the way to the top....worst thing that could happen is Paul deLay says no?

Sure enough.....Paul had the date open and he subbed in for me at the gig. Revenge is sweet......I just wish I could have seen the look on my bandmates face when he found out Paul would be playing the gig! HAHA.....equal or greater talent you say?? about so far greater that you will probably sweat bullets to play bass for him?!

So..if you haven't heard Paul deLay play and are really missing out. He has a very unique style of playing ,singing and songwriteing. Lots of different recordings to choose from. I like "Ocean Of Tears"....."Paulzilla"....."Nice And Strong".....heck...I like em all. Hands down my favorite chromatic player and way in there on the short harp too.

By the way Jason, you will probably be interested to know that Paul personally told me he did not learn by practicing scales. I was asking him about how he learned to find his way around the chromatic so well and if he practiced scales......his comment was something like " would think that would be the smart way.....but no"


Jan 21, 2009 5:40 AM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

Had the honour of seeing Paul a couple times up here in Vancouver, BC
when the border people would co-operate :(
I'd get to the Yale with my wife ridiculously early to get the best
seats. Paul was doing his sound check with that marvelous mysterious
harp case/amp/drink holder that he used. I was watching intently and
when he was done he came over and sat with us to say hello and chat.
Very likeable, easy going, wicked sense of humour. Answered any
questions I dared to ask. He went off to get ready. My sister-in-law
showed up and the bunch of us danced like fiends the whole first
set. Paul went out of his way to come over during the break to
compliment the ladies on their dancing. You couldn't get the smiles
off their faces for days.
The day Paul died I heard the news on-line at work. It was a typical
wet rainy westcoast day. As I drove home with a Delay disc in the
deck the setting sun dropped below the clouds and a huge double
rainbow appeared over the city. The sky was crying...and so was I.


Jan 22, 2009 10:01 PM GMT
Judge Replied:

I must be honest I've never heard of Mr DeLay. I'll check him out, thanks Mr M.
that's the beauty of this place.

Jan 23, 2009 4:20 AM GMT
Tuck M Replied:

Yes! Paul is of my favorites. I only knew him thru his music,but I felt I lost a friend. I still miss him.

Jan 10, 2010 8:18 AM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

Paul has a stellar live take of "Blues and Trouble." It's one of the first trad Blues harp features that REALLY made me want to step up my game. I'm sorry Paul left us. If anyone can recommend to me some of his other work I would appreciate it. In the meantime if you haven't heard "Blues and Trouble" I hope you'll look it up on the ol world wide web or at your local record store :)

Jan 10, 2010 2:56 PM GMT
Chris C Replied:

"I don't feel nothing. I just walk around here in a daze!"

Man what a great track. I want may band to do it but I dont think we are anywhare nearready for it yet. And I would have to play the harp parts on sax as I am not flexible enough on harp yet to do it.

Jan 11, 2010 7:21 PM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

Can't go wrong with any of Paul's stuff. "Heavy Rotation", "Take it from the Turnaround", "Nice & Strong", "Last of the Best".

All good.


ain't busted but I'm badly bent

Jan 13, 2010 7:25 PM GMT
Adam P Replied:

Manlio, congratulations on highlighting one of the greatest modern day players that have graced us with their music (in my opinion anyway). I'm from England and virtually no-one has heard of Paul deLay here. I first heard him on a CD compilation of blues harmonica music and he completely blew me a way. I think the track was 'Mine all Mine'. I agree that he sounded like no-one else and his harp playing was technically superb. What set him apart for me was his sheer musicality. Every solo he played seems to make so much sense! I also understand he didn't use overblows which seems incredible when you listen to him. I used to look forward to ordering each new deLay band CD from the States and was really saddened to hear about his passing.

Every harp player should own a Paul deLay Band CD and learn a thing or two from the big man!

Jan 13, 2010 7:27 PM GMT
Adam P Replied:

By the way, there's an interesting interview with him on YouTube -

Jan 14, 2010 12:07 AM GMT
eric b Replied:

I've you haven't bought "Greasy Kid's Stuff" by Kid Ramos (I think that's the title)'s a reala treat.Paul does two tunes on there that will make You pucker...heavy,heavy solos.His phrasing is just so damn bold,and behind the beat.I think they were some of His most recent recordings...not to mention it's pretty much a harmonica showcase album...Tons of great players.

Jan 19, 2010 4:44 AM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

Yeah Mister DeLay really dug in deep. You can tell a player who really pulls good stuff out of his or her sould like Paul did. I'm going to look up that "Greasy Kid Stuff" tune right now. I love a good suggestion :) I still recommend "Blues and Trouble" live version. He's unstoppable.

Jan 19, 2010 4:48 AM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

Hmmm... so far I'm finding Steve Vai, The Norvells, Kid Ramos with Little Andrew (that's what my ex called me... OH!), Janie Grant, even They Might be Giants. there are a lot of greasy kids out there haha. I'mNot finding the tunes with paul. Do you know what they are called?

Jan 19, 2010 5:12 PM GMT
BlueMoose Replied:

Greasy Kid's Stuff

Paul plays on:

Say what you mean, Baby

Ain't Gonna Holler

ain't busted but I'm badly bent

Jan 20, 2010 6:30 AM GMT
Andrew T Replied:

Nice! I'll be sure to check those tunes out! Thanks for the correction. Man, he was one heck of a talented player. When I get paid I'm gonna blow half my check on Paul's entire discography. Paul and I both deserve it haha.

Jan 20, 2010 10:51 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Thank you Jason, I just read your blog and was able to see a you tube of Paul Delay.

Jan 20, 2010 11:13 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Let me try this again. some times my comments are cut off and I either restart the comment of just give up.

Jason I just read your blog on Paul DeLay, I also found a performance on youtube. I found your blog to be on the money. I enjoyed Paul DeLays music and above all his lyrics. I am also up set that I have once agin learned of a great man after his passing and from this site. I had written a post about lost music and how if the player is not on main stream crap radio one may never hear of them.

Jason you are an example. When I first saw you a year ago on Youtube I thought you were a very interesting person who know how to transfer knowledge of the harp.. It was not until two weeks after you played at Bostons on the beach back in 08 did I realize you played.. and not bad kid-do.

I will see you again on Friday, each and every time you in town I will stop by. I just wish I was abel to see more great unknown players. Funny how that works out.. your unknown until your known.

I have been asking about what gear i should get, not no more. I will be buying songs, I will hear more of Paul DeLay and others. Guys gust keep on listing the greats and the unheard of, and I wlll listen.


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