Deep in Louisiana’s swampy backcountry lies a dusty trail. Squint hard enough and you can just make out the letters on a battered road sign: Delta Spur. Smiling, satisfied, you inhale deeply the scent of Spanish moss and turn down the path, the sounds of low-country fiddle, guitar and full-belly singing becoming all the clearer as you make your approach.
Ok, so maybe the scene at Saturday’s Smokehouse Live show won’t be quite so sensuous, but it will be a raucous country music celebration presented by six incredibly talented area musicians.
Delta Spur, comprised of Harry Evans, Matthew Byrne, Tommy Bouch, David West, Matthew Berry and Mike Hooke on drums, fiddle, lead vocals and guitar, guitar and bass, respectively (Bouch and West front the band in tandem), is the answer to the cold-weather blues. These gentlemen specialize in today’s biggest country hits, including those from Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley, Eric Church, Luke Bryan and still others.
“About a year ago, we started kicking around the idea of a modern, radio-country band and I reached out to the best musicians I knew,” West said. “Luckily, they were all into it. We rehearsed for about six months and played our first show right about this time last year.”
Not that any of Delta Spur’s members really needed the year of practice—all are accomplished musicians in their own right. Hooke and Byrne are both musicians with the U.S. Army, playing bass and trumpet, respectively. Berry is an “incredibly talented jazz musician,” says West, and fronts Maryland power-pop quartet Classified Frequency. Evans, well known in the area for percussion-related stints with bands like Poole, The Throes and Koshari, is fresh from the high of winning an Emmy for his sound production work. Bouch is “our true, authentic country guy,” West adds, while characterizing himself as “really into the Philly neo-soul stuff.”
Indeed, both West and Hooke have demonstrably broad musical tastes, as the pair collectively cut their teeth in college bands and, shortly after, in a hip-hop cover band called Slipdisk. The experimentation went on from there: “Mike [Hooke] and I have been in bands together since our college days at LSU,” West said. “When I moved up to D.C. in 1999, we decided to form an old-school hip-hop cover band. That band did really well around DC/MD/VA, but broke up around 2004. Our next band was a wedding/variety band called Backbeat. While playing for these weddings, we were always required to learn a few songs for the first dance, father/daughter, etc., and we started noticing that about 80 percent of these requested songs were country. We also noticed the songs were pretty incredible and we sounded really good playing them. After Backbeat ran its course, we would always say, ‘We should form a country band.’ Fast-forward a few years later, and we decided to make it happen. And we couldn’t be happier about where it’s heading.”
Those who belly up to the footlights at Smokehouse Live can expect a high-energy performance that encourages dancing, singing and, most importantly, a sense of fun.
“If the whole crowd is just sitting there watching, then I don’t feel like we’re doing our job,” West said. “I’m hoping the Delta Spur first-timer will hear a lot of great country music that they’re not used to hearing local live bands play, and see a band tearing it up on stage having the time of their lives.”
West added, “Smokehouse is an awesome venue with great food, drinks and plenty of room to dance. They’ve been great to us and we’re hoping to make it something of a home since we’re all local boys.”
Despite Delta Spur’s repertoire being one chiefly concerned with covers, listeners will find plenty of originality coming from this group. Even that opening tableau contains a kernel of truth, according to West: “When I was growing up in south Louisiana, there were a lot of unmarked dirt roads that didn’t have official names. I remembered one of these roads that all the locals referred to as the ‘Delta Spur.’ I mentioned [the name] to the band and it stuck.”
Unsurprisingly, this authenticity is telegraphed through Delta Spur’s labors, resulting in a listener reaction that does much to validate West’s theory that a big appetite exists for this kind of live music in Loudoun and points beyond. “No matter where we play, we get people singing along and knowing every solo in every song,” he said. “We’ve played packed houses in downtown D.C. to crowds that love country, but rarely get to hear it live. In Loudoun and the surrounding counties, we get a lot of love and appreciation for what we do. We also love to surprise people that may not have been country fans at the beginning of the night. The quote we hear most often is, ‘Wow, I don’t really listen to country, but that was amazing!’ I think that speaks to the music as much as the band.”
Allow Delta Spur to blow your boots off starting at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, at Smokehouse Live, located in the Village at Leesburg. Admission is free to all. For information on upcoming Delta Spur shows, go to www.deltaspur.com.