live music

Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts serve up Southern blues with some Aliquippa grit

Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts serve up Southern blues with some Aliquippa grit. by Scott Mervis – Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Photo Dec 22, 7 53 16 AM

There’s no shortage right now of bands leaning on soul, blues and both, but with the new album, “Thieves & Yesterdays,” Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts demand some attention.

The third album from the Aliquippa singer-guitarist and first with the Delta Struts has a swampy Southern feel reminiscent of the Allman Brothers, Black Crowes and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and it should also appeal to the fans who are packing shows by Pittsburgh’s The Commonheart.

The album ranges from the gentle soul of “Memphis Sky” to the dirty blues stomp of “Heavy Toll” to the SRV-style blues-funk of “Green Eyed Girl.” Shawn Mazzei joins the frontman for a thick, greasy two-guitar attack and bassist Christian Caputo and drummer Mark Pollera are the gears in the back.

Thus far, Mr. Bubien has earned some accolades — winning two Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania awards — played lots of regional festivals and opened for such esteemed artists as Valerie June, Robert Randolph, Tinsley Ellis and Shemekia Copeland.

The album will be released on Friday, after they do gigs at Jergel’s on Wednesday and the Hard Rock Cafe, Station Square, Thursday.

Here’s what he had to say about the Delta 

Struts and the current project.

First off, what drew you to this style of music?

Well, my dad was a lifelong musician, and his idol was Jimmie Ross and The Jaggerz. He was a real good harmony singer, and soul music was his thing, so that’s what I would always hear coming from him and his band at an early age, and he would always preach to me about this soul music. As I got older and started taking an interest in playing music myself, I was drawn to blues. I think that just derives from pain and struggle. I had a serious knee injury in high school to deal with, so there was this physical pain I felt on top of the everyday struggles a teenager feels. Also, I think growing up in Pittsburgh, especially an area like Aliquippa, a tough town with hard-working, real, everyday folks, kind of drew me to what I perceived as real, working, roots music.

Were you at all intimidated to jump into this genre, given all its previous greatness?

Not at first. I don’t think I truly realized the level of greatness it possessed until later. I kinda had to learn how to evaluate my own music and what I was putting out, take a step back and get 

really critical on how it compares to my hero’s. You get crushed and then learn a few things, get better, do it again and again.

Who are some of the musicians you most admired, or learned from the most?

Well, I kind of feel that you learn from the likes of what you’re striving to be and what you’re capable of, and you kind of admire what you’re not. But this record is certainly influenced by The Allman Brothers, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Black Crowes, Marcus King, Jason Isbell, there’s John Lee Hooker in there and Dan Auerbach. That’s just a few of our inspirations for this record. I admire the likes of Otis Redding. James Carr is one of my favorite singers. The Stax records, the Muscle Shoals sound, that Southern soul thing really was what we were after. I’ve learned a lot from local musicians I’ve admired. My dad. I’ve gotten great advice and tips on singing from Morgan Maybray. I used to play in the Freedom Band and got to learn so much from Donnie Dread. I’ve learned a lot from watching The Commonheart. That’s just a few. So many, really.

So, what separates this album from the previous ones?

Well, for one, I think time. The more you do something the better you become at it, generally. Sonically, I think this album is right on point for serving the style of music me and the band wrote and wanted this album to feel and sound like. We recorded and mixed the album with Pete Drivere at Amperon Recorder in Youngstown, Ohio, to 2-inch tape. The drums, bass and rhythm guitars were all tracked live, so I think that gives the record an organic quality, sound and vibe. Lastly and most importantly, I think the biggest difference is that we took our time and really tried to do everything right collectively as a band. We rehearsed the songs and took the time and effort to figure out what works best for everyone’s part with the overall goal of serving what’s best for the song.

You’ve managed to open for some great artists along the way. What did you gain from those experiences?

I’ve gained a lot of insight through observations and conversations with the artists and sometimes management on how the business kinda works and the business models they use. Also, observing closely how an artist on a high level makes a show work, flow, how they can technically and stylistically capture an audience and keep them engaged and entertained and all that goes into it to achieve that. I’ve gotten tone secrets and tips, what gear works for this, what gear works for that if you’re trying to achieve a specific sonic thing. I’ve had many artist be so generous with that type of information which is really so amazing cause that kind of information is priceless!

Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts

Where and when: 8 p.m. Wednesday at Jergel’s, Marshal (free) and 8 p.m. Thursday at the Hard Rock Cafe, Station Square, with JD Simo and The Semi-Supervillains ($10;

Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts ready to roll

Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts have established themselves in the Pittsburgh music scene with a reputation for dependability and excellence. by Scott Tady – Beaver County Times

Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts have established themselves in the Pittsburgh music scene with a reputation for dependability and excellence.     by Scott Tady - Beaver County Times

Dan Bubien & the Delta Struts have established themselves in the Pittsburgh music scene with a reputation for dependability and excellence.

With one listen, you can just tell the blues-rock-soul band’s new album, “Thieves & Yesterdays,” is the one frontman Bubien, of Aliquippa, has been itching to make.

Confidence and purpose burst from every track, heard in each soulful vocal wail, each testifying guitar run and every thick groove achieved by Bubien and his bandmates, including fellow six-string ace Shawn Mazzei.

With a tight, seasoned rhythm section of Christian “Captain” Caputo and Mark Pollera, and guest appearances from two of the Beaver County’s finest sidemen — keyboardist Joe Munroe and harmonica player Charlie Barath — “Thieves & Yesterdays” is an album that demands attention now.

“We are very much looking forward to what 2019 has to bring,” Bubien said. “We’re excited to be releasing “Thieves & Yesterdays,” which will be available for purchase on Feb. 1.”

Count on Bubien & the Delta Struts to feature some of the new songs Wednesday, when headlining Jergel’s Rhythm Grille in Marshall Township, and again Thursday night when they open for Chicago singer-songwriter J.D. Simo at the Hard Rock Cafe at Station Square in Pittsburgh.

“It’s personally my third release since 2013 but the first with an official band alongside with me, which just made the entire process that much more meaningful to me,” Bubien said. “I also think because of that, it’s just that much better. We really tried to take our time and do everything right on this record. We really worked on our preproduction, making sure we were rehearsed and had enough time with the songs to let them really sink in, but not too much where they can start to feel stale and performances can suffer.”

The song “Shake That Thang” has a loose and live celebratory feel. “Shirley” gets funky in its bridges, then slows up for a smooth soul chorus. “Heavy Toll” carries a hard Delta blues and rock sound.

Rob O’Friel, from Pittsburgh’s 91.3-WYEP, hears Black Crowes and Allman Brothers influences, praising “Thieves & Yesterdays” for its “ragged tightness” and “crunchy, gritty, jammy” sound.

Tedeschi Trucks Band and Marcus King Band influences stand out, too.

From drum parts to ancillary percussion and the bass and guitar tones, Bubien and & Delta Struts individually and collectively thought everything out.

“We left room for the proper amount of experimentation in the studio when it came to tones and capturing the sound we wanted, and there were obviously spontaneous moments of inspiration in the studio that made the whole process feel alive and right,” Bubien said.

The foundation of drums, bass and rhythm guitars was all recorded live, “so it has real living, organic quality to it, I believe,” Bubien said, adding the album “represents our current sound and vibe pretty well.”

The official CD release show is April 6 at Mr. Smalls Funhouse in Millvale.

A week prior, they’ll kick off a tour in Nashville, playing a dozen markets including Knoxville, Tenn., and Bowling Green, Ky.

“We signed on to a three-month contract that will run through June with Spark Joy Music, who has us booked in the Midwest and Eastern region of the country with a few Southern markets. We’re really looking forward to getting out there on the road and representing Pittsburgh and presenting our music and show to different markets and parts of the country,” Bubien said. “I think our sound, the music that inspires us, the music I have written over the years and what we do, specifically resonates in the South, so we’re really interested on how it will be received.”