Review of “if somebody told me” – Rootstime, Belgium
by on April 5, 2023 in Uncategorized

“A big, high-energy harmonica and horns blues band from the Oakland/San Francisco…”

(Translated from the original Dutch)

Delta Wires is a blues band from Oakland/San Francisco. Bay Area. They are a “continuation” of Ernie Pinata’s college project, in which he described the evolution and spread of the blues (from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago and the West Coast). They were finalists in the 2008 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN. The band was inducted into the California Blues Hall of Fame in 2012. The band currently consists of bandleader, front man Ernie Pinata (vocals, harmonica), Tom Gerrits (bass), Richard Healy (guitar), Tony Huszar (drums), Richard Sylvester (keyboards) and three horn players: David Bowman (trombone), John Christensen (trumpet) & Caleb Murray (saxophone).

The band was inducted into the famous California Blues Hall of Fame in 2012. They have performed live in both the US and Italy and have shared the stage with artists/bands such as Bad Company, Boz Scaggs, The Doobie Brothers, Dr. John, John Lee Hooker, The James Gang, Freddie King, John Mayall, Van Morrison, The Neville Bros, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells.

This West Coast band debuted in 1991 with a self-titled album ‘Delta Wires’. ‘Born in Oakland’ (2017), which we reviewed here was their fifth studio album. Their ninth release was titled ‘If Somebody Told Me…’. The album features some original songs and several covers, both in a variety of styles. “Can’t Win for Losin’,” the opener, is a powerful original song opened by the “newcomers.” Content is about a band with highs and lows, trying to make it in San Francisco. “If Somebody Told Me…”, the second on the track list is the moving title track “if somebody told me…”. It is a quietly spun-out blues ballad that is both intimate and empathetic, heartfelt and heartbreaking. The song is about how important family ties are and certainly how the loss of a son can affect a parent. What follows next,is a cover of a song by Larry Davis and Joseph W. Scott. “I Tried” is Pinata’s tribute to Duke Records and the music of Larry Davis. “Bring Me Up” sounds old school and optimistic. Pinata says Joe Turner influenced them when they wrote the song Big Band-style. “Voodoo Cadillac” is an arrangement of a song written by Richard Miller (Southern Culture on the Skids) with some Tulsa allure and “I Pity the Fool”,a cover of a song by Deadrie Malone & Don Robey. Again, the horns draw a lot of attention to themselves. “Sloppy Drunk” (by Lucille Bogan & Sonny Boy Williamson) brings back some more swing after this. Pinata’s harmonica also gets a leading role in this nicely rocking song. With “Hand Outta My Pocket” the tempo goes down again. It is an excellent arrangement of the Sonny Boy Williamson song, which received a modified arrangement. “Dimples” is often a “must” for blues fans. The version by James Bracken & John Lee Hooker received a thorough upgrade, but remains (compared to the original) very “recognizable.” The closing track is the only instrumental, “Blues in Hoss’ Flat.” It is swinging number written by William Count Basie & Frank B. Foster, including the all-new horn arrangement by David Bowman and including an excellent trumpet solo by John Christensen.

“‘If Somebody Told Me…’, the new Delta Wires’ release, is an album of swinging songs by a band that will not get bored quickly…” (ESC,

Eric Schuurmans

The DELTA WIRES 1549 East Shore Drive Alameda, CA 94501 All rights reserved ©1971-2023 Band Office: 510-882-8742