By Johnny Griffith
There are voices…then there are voices. The kind that reaches down into your soul, grabs it, and pulls it out through your ears by sheer will. The kind that the blues gods reach down and bestow upon an individual very rarely, and even then, most don’t know what to do with the power of such a gift.
That’s Chris Wallace and The Delta Blues!
Originally from East Texas, Wallace picked up the guitar at an early age and spent most of his formative years listening to such blues essentials as Buddy Guy, BB King, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Taj Mahal, and many others. Along the way he discovered he also had a voice that could call down the thunder and the lightning which, when combined with a natural blues guitar talent, created an experience that one must witness in person to fully appreciate.
Wallace eventually joined forces with three other equally gifted musicians and formed The Delta Blues and they’ve been burning up stages in the area ever since. The band is comprised of Robert Cheek on drums, Garland Moore on bass, and Steve Howell on lead guitar. Their bio page reads like something out of a comic book, with these cats as the obvious heroes of the story.
“Chris is from East Texas originally. He got into music early at the age of 5 or 6 when he started learning to play guitar. Chris is usually spending time with his wife and 2-year-old daughter when not doing music. His influences are Buddy Guy, BB King, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Taj Mahal, and so forth.”
Robert Cheek is originally from Mabank, Texas. He moved to the Tyler area to pursue an education in music as a percussionist at University of Texas at Tyler. He first got involved with music by joining band in the 6th grade. He taught drums and percussion as an assistant band director at Frankston ISD in Frankston Texas. “Music has always been a hobby and a passion so I turned it into a career. Other than that, I spend my time with my wife Brandi and three boys Tristan, Walter, and Adrian.” Roberts influences are Levon Helm and The Band, Benny Greb, Carter Beauford, and Stewart Copeland, just to name a few.
Steve Howell has been playing guitar since he could hold one. Classically trained in music, and a music teacher at Rockwall Schools, he has brought a great amount of knowledge to the group. Steve has a passion to write songs which is great, because The Delta Blues has a lot of things coming for 2018 in that regard. He loves everything music. Steve’s influences include Son house, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Billy Gibbons, and the likes.
Garland Moore was forged out of what can only be considered pure grit, raw talent, and brilliant Irish whiskey. Learning to play guitar with his friends and jamming in the funky bars in and around Waco, “G-Mo” made the move to bass and never looked back. He earned his stripes through various musical excursions in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and onward thru the fog. In his free time, Garland loves to shoot his guns, fish, and restore classic cars. His influences are Carol Kay, Harvey Brooks, Ray Brown, Bob Mosley, Edgar Mayer, and Donald Dunn.
I recently sat down with The Delta Blues to get a better idea of how they came to be and where they are going:
Johnny: How did the band meet?
The Delta Blues: Chris and Garland ventured in other project together for several years until finally landing Robert and Steve today that create a sound like no other “blues” band around.
Johnny: Why “The Delta Blues Band?” Was there intent with the name selection, or did it just sound catchy?
The Delta Blues: There was intent on the name and we had many to decide from along the lines of “blue or blues something another,” but the Delta Blues Band stuck with us, so we just rolled with it.
Johnny: Why that style of music? It’s certainly not a style that gets the most real estate on stages around the area. What led you to your sound?
The Delta Blues: We all love the blues and what it represents. Our foundation is blues but it’s kicked up a notch. So even though blues isn’t a huge market here, we didn’t want to play one certain style just to get gigs. Chris’ vocals and style of playing is really the center of our sound. He has that ‘bigger than life’ voice and stage presence that captivates an audience. His upbringing is as blues/rock/country as it gets. His dad is a prominent musician in his own right and the blues just seem to run in Chris’ blood. Mix that with the awe-inspiring talent and experience of Steve and Garland playing guitar and bass, with a little simple groove and shuffle from Robert on drums, and you got The Delta Blues.
Johnny: Who are some of the significant influences musically for the band?
The Delta Blues: Buddy Guy is a big one for our front man Chris. He makes the shows fun and entertaining for the crowds. We just love any band that puts on a show when you see them live. For us, we can hear the music on a cd at the house but if you can’t put the mojo on the crowd then you are doing it wrong.
Johnny: What was your first gig as Chris Wallace and The Delta Blues Band?
The Delta Blues: The Purple Pig on 155 was our first gig as CW and the DB Band. That was our knocking the dust-off gig as they say. It was a small gig maybe 30 to 40 people. We had a great time. Mighty fine BBQ too!!!
Johnny: In an area that is traditionally dominated musically by country and rock acts, have there been any challenges getting gigs and building a base for a blues band?
The Delta Blues: There is a challenge getting it up and running. In the beginning stages it is tough to get gigs. But, once the show is over we always get welcomed back. There are a lot of places around here that need to hear us. We put on a hell of a show. It’s getting these clubs now days to take a chance on something different that’s challenging
Johnny: Are you guys typically local to the East Texas area or do you venture out into other markets at this point?
The Delta Blues: We’ve stayed pretty local, but I think we’d all be willing to travel some. It would depend on if the situation was right all around and we all agreed to it. We generally make gig decisions as a group. We clear everything through each other. For instance, pay, lodging arrangements, and schedules would all have to line up to everyone’s expectations before taking on any gig no matter the distance.
Johnny: What has been the most memorable gig for the band to this point?
The Delta Blues: We must give XLN a shout out. When the DB Band plays there, it’s just pure chemistry between us and the crowd. We always bring the house down and have a few people that love to get up with us and sing. We want every gig to be memorable for our audience. You get people involved and engaged in your show and they take it home with them. But our motto is “We give our all whether there are 3 people in the crowd or 300” But if we happen to get the 3, that gives us a chance to really mold any new songs we have never done live or just put on the one hell of a Jam.
Johnny: What does 2018 have in store for The Delta Blues? Any projects or tour plans?
The Delta Blues: We are working on an all original CD now. We have 5 or 6 great tunes so far. We want to do about 10 songs for this CD. We are hoping that the CD will help us move to more gigs to keep us steady through the year.
Johnny: For new fans, what can they expect at a show with The Delta Blues?
The Delta Blues: For our new fans, you can expect to have a good time. When people go out to a bar or club they want to hear songs they know. We can read the crowd quick and with our extensive set list we can mold it to anyone in the crowd. It doesn’t matter if you like country, rock, rap, blues, or catchy TV show theme songs we will deliver an experience that makes you want to come back and see us.
Chris Wallace And The Delta Blues can be found at: