Artists: Delta Rae, Raye Zaragoza
Venue: Lodge Room
Date: October 25, 2021
The time that has passed during the pandemic has been challenging for many, but many others have also used it as an opportunity to create and expand their reach in new ways. Delta Rae, the “gospel-tinged country-rock, sensual blue-eyed soul and harmony-laden Americana” (as they label themselves) band from North Carolina, used their time during the pandemic to thrive. They released not one, but two full-length albums, The Light (which I listed as one of my Top Albums of 2020) and The Dark, and opened their “Behind The Door” digital membership subscription, which is chock full of behind the scenes goodies and special concert streams. Both new albums pack a punch of emotional, uplifting, gut-wrenching, and toe-tapping new music from start to finish — and they provided the perfect vessel for an amazing live tour in 2021.
This tour is allowing Delta Rae to collaborate with a variety of opening artists, and in Los Angeles we were graced with the sweet and soulful voice of Raye Zaragoza. As a Japanese-American, Mexican, Indigenous woman, Raye draws from her life experiences and tells amazing stories through her songs. She not only has a captivating voice, but she’s also an excellent storyteller. From the tale of her mother immigrating from Japan, “Change Your Name,” (for which her mother and father were present at the performance that evening), to her girl power-driven “Fight Like A Girl,” she fully engaged the audience with her performance. She was a pure delight to have opening that evening and could easily hold her own with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Jewel, and other prominent female singer/songwriters from throughout the years.
When Delta Rae took the stage there was something, or rather someone, noticeably missing. The band normally consists of siblings Ian, Eric & Brittany Hölljes, plus Elizabeth Hopkins, Mike McKee, and Grant Emerson. However, on this night they were down one Brittany. I knew this was going to be the case, as they made a statement on their social media the week prior that Brittany had to return home due to a family emergency and wouldn’t be able to join for the remainder of the West Coast portion of the tour. I will admit that I was sad when I first heard this news, because Brittany takes lead vocals on a few of my favorite Delta Rae songs, but the band filled the gap powerfully with the combined talents of the other five band members (plus the addition of their tour guitarist, Kianna Cameron, who is nothing short of amazing).
I saw Delta Rae a few years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and they’ve grown in their sound and stage presence exponentially since then! I have to give the band major props, as they likely had to do some big reworking of their set list, and fast, when Brittany had to leave the tour for a bit. It warmed my heart immensely when Elizabeth took the lead on one of my favorite songs, “Run,” in honor of Brittany (a song that I wasn’t expecting to hear that evening) — and Elizabeth held her own on that song! Truth be told, Elizabeth held her own on stage for the entire show. Her energy and presence were sights to behold! I mean, I knew she could sing going in — but, GIRL CAN SING!
One of the reasons I love Delta Rae so much as a band is that they don’t really fit into any pre-determined mold, and according to their Wikipedia, they agree with that statement. I think that’s why they aren’t as well known as I believe they should be — because there’s not just one single box to put them into, as such, they aren’t really played on the radio. That is also where their greatness lies, however. They use that freedom to create such a wide variety of songs that their albums will keep you fully engaged from start to finish. I also love that vocals are provided by Ian, Eric, Brittany & Elizabeth, which lends itself to different lead singers and lush harmonic accompanying vocals.
This tour allowed them to do a show in two acts — The Light & The Dark. The first half of the show contained a lot of their more uplifting tunes, with a focus on their 2020 album. Halfway through, the lights went down while Kianna Cameron shredded on the guitar, and then the rest of the band returned to a darker stage, lantern light, and darker colored clothing. It was time for The Dark, their 2021 release. I loved the presentation. I loved the shift.
Even with only three of the four vocalists on this part of the tour, they still filled the Lodge Room with their tight harmonies. Their show took you from the opening banger, “Burning In Carolina,” to a sweet three part harmonic rendition of “Morning Comes,” with minimal instrumentation, allowing their vocal tones to shine. I was giddy during The Dark when Eric took the lead on “Out Of The Badlands,” arguably my favorite track from that album. The concert lifted you up and cooled you down; embodied you with insane energy and filled you with intense emotion. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I’m just sad that I only got to go to one stop on this tour, because I could easily watch them for multiple nights in a row. Thank goodness I’m a “Behind The Door” subscriber and can fill up my cup there any time I desire.
This was one of the best live shows I’ve been to in a long time. I loved seeing Delta Rae really get their footing and be able to deliver the type of show they’ve likely been chomping at the bit to do for a couple of years now. I took my boyfriend with me to the show, not knowing much about this band at all, and he left there as a new fan (and not just because of their Fleetwood Mac cover). He was also amazed by their diversity in sound and the energy that they exhumed on stage.
They are still on tour, hitting up cities on the East Coast and in the Midwest. If you see this review and they are coming to your town and you don’t have tickets, RUN to get yourself tickets to see this band live! You can find their tour schedule on the website: https://www.deltarae.com/#tour
Check out their new albums on Spotify below: