North Coast Journal August 7, 2008
The Delta Nationals are a talented quartet of local blues-rooted musicians whose second album, All over the map emerged this year. As the title suggests, the album is a diverse collection of toe-tapping music authored by the band members. The Delta Nationals have created a wonderful boogie sound on this album which should resonate with most dancers, enliven almost any dinner party, and even elicit nostalgia in the stubborn-minded.
From the slow-dance masterpiece “Everlasting” to the Texas swing of “Lonesome Cowboy,” the Delta Nationals never abandon the dancers. All over the map is a showcase of the music they love, with the Delta Nationals crafting their own versions of Bossa Nova, country, surf, and blues songs.
Steve Irwin plays guitar for the band and marks his country-tinged recordings with crystal clear riffs and slick notes. He contributes a distinctive twang to the “Last logger leaving town” and provides the heart of the surf aesthetic to “Camel Rock” their musical tribute to the local surf spot.
Dave Ryan’s keyboard work strolls through “That Bossa Nova thing,” and he fills in the sound for the band in some critical spots throughout the album. His potent piano anchors the blues song “She’s good to me.”
Drummer Paul Demark, doesn’t seem rushed – a rare condition in a percussionist. Even the most talented drummers seem to speed up, arriving suddenly, painstakingly, on point, often a little early. Demark is the rarest of drummers whose sound seems to flow out of his kit with little effort and maximum grace.
Listen to “Everlasting,”on All Over the Map. The beat is so fluid it positively oozes across the recording. Similar patience shows itself through the half dozen other styles emerging from his drumsticks.
Matching DeMark, is Ross Rowley, the bass player who keeps it all together, style after style. One clear highlight is the enjoyable “Up from New Orleans” which offers Ross a chance to share some healthy blues lines and swinging vocals. The rhythm section of Ross and DeMark charges together and fills every song on the record from rip-roaring two-step to stuttered blues.
All over the map is a local incarnation of the flexible dance bands of yore – the troubadours who could entertain whatever kind of audience came through the door. Humboldt should be honored to host this kind of talent, and when you see the Delta Nationals playing next at a beer hall or grange, lace up your shoes and head for the dance floor, it is sure to be crowded. Maxwell Schnurer