Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center, Greenfield, MA February 2, 2018
Story and photos by Kelly D
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Erin Harpe and the Delta Swingers, a four-piece from Boston, headed out west to support their friends Roomful of Blues this past Friday. The event was held as part of Greenfield’s annual Winter Carnival and though the temperatures outside flirted with “frigid,” Erin and her band kept the atmosphere in Hawks and Reed red-hot.
The Delta Swingers are the real deal. (And I’m not just saying that cuz I’m their publicist.) It was the first time I had the chance to see them live and I was utterly delighted. Led by guitarist Erin Harpe, who cut her teeth playing the blues with her father Neil with greats such as Archie Edwards, John Jackson, and Eleanor Ellis, among others, the rest of the band is harmonica player Matt Charles, bass man (and Erin’s husband) Jim Countryman, and drummer Devin Vaillancourt. Together, the outfit serves up boogie, blues, and soul with a bit of funk to mix it up.
They kicked things off with “Kokomo Me Baby” and then the title track from their debut album Love Whip Blues. Immediately, everyone in the event space began to dance. I enjoyed twirling and swirling in my dress (and crinoline!) as Charles honked on his mouth harp and Countryman and Vaillancourt held down the rhythm section with gusto to “Voodoo Blues.” What a treat! I don’t often get out to shows where partner dancing is much of a thing, so this was special. Erin is a sassy and talented performer- she plays each show in fishnet stockings and little Mary Janes, with a flower tucked in her curls.
Harpe kept the crowd moving and engaged, introducing everyone in the room to “kazoo hands” as she hooted on one, all the while playing her guitar. Kazoo solos? Bodacious guitar licks? A songbird singing voice? Erin Harpe’s got it all! Highlights included the Swingers putting their own spin on “Shake Your Hips,” written by Slim Harpo and covered by the Rolling Stones (among many others). The band also busted out “Gimme That (Somethin’ Special)” a song that’s been in their repertoire for years but got a new life on their sophomore record Big Road that was just released this past autumn. It’s more of a pop-funk number but absolutely kept people moving. No genre snobbery here!
Though the crowd skewed older, you wouldn’t have known by all the energetic dancin’ shoes on the floor spinning around. If you’re looking for an old-fashioned good bluesy night of tunes with a modern twist, the Delta Swingers will gladly provide it. The only bummer was that as they were the opener, the set was only about 40 minutes long. However, it turned out to be a great incentive to want to go see them again!
Setlist: 1. Kokomo Me, Baby 2. Love Whip Blues 3. Voodoo Blues 4. Pick Poor Robin (ft. kazoo!) 5. Stop & Listen 6. Gimme That 7. Hip Shake 8. Big Road To submit a story or to just say hello, email us at [email protected]