Del Ray: Women in American Music
Del Rey’s Women in American Music concert follows the development of the music from classic blues, to rural blues, to swing and rocking hillbillies, through the stories of the diverse and interesting women that played music from 1900 to 1950. The show begins in the ’20s when pianists Lovie Austin and Lil Hardin, led jazz bands and wrote songs for singers like Alberta Hunter and Blue Lu Barker. Moving on to the ’30s singers Mildred Bailey and Billie Holiday are followed by instrumentalists like pianist Mary Lou Williams and bebop guitarist Mary Osborne. The bluegrass and hillbilly women are represented by Rose Maddox and the great tradition of Tex-Mex border music by singer and 12-string guitarist Lydia Mendoza.
The diverse music of these women is tied together by new guitar arrangements that bring the songs to life for younger generations. The show is interesting both for its historical information and the innovative musicianship involved in playing these pieces on guitar. There is both humor and inspiration to be enjoyed in the lives and music of these women and it is exciting to have a woman instrumentalist playing the songs in the here and now.
Del Rey started playing guitar when she was four years old and has taught and played all over the world. She has tried to get a whole band onto her solo instrument from the beginning. This gives her music an interesting complexity, especially when applied to the ukulele. Rags, blues and tunes of the early 20th century are her specialty, even as she writes new music to add to the tradition. Del Rey also has fashion sense that would make Minnie Pearl smile.
“Del Rey, who plays a syncopated style of guitar based on prewar blues and barrelhouse piano traditions, is one of the best fingerpickers of this or any generation. “
"Whilst known for her amazing instrumental skills … it should not be overlooked that she always provides a very entertaining show, full of variety, drama and humour.”