Del Rey started playing guitar when she was four. At the age of 13, she was introduced to the world of traditional acoustic music when she and a friend stumbled into a concert at Folk Arts Rare Records in San Diego. About 20 people were sitting on the floor under the record bins listening to a kid named Tom Waits play his original songs.
Lou Curtiss, proprietor of Folk Arts and artistic director of the San Diego Folk Festival suggested that she quit wasting her time playing “Stairway to Heaven” and listen to some Memphis Minnie. Del soaked up country blues, stride piano, classic jazz and hillbilly boogie.
Thirty years later, she became fascinated with the ukulele and plays the same kind of complicated rhythmic blues and ragtime on four strings as on six.
Del Rey performs this Saturday at Boulevard Music in Culver City. The NEWS caught up with her for a quick chat.
1) When did you start playing and writing music, and when did you start taking music seriously?
I started playing guitar at age four. My mom brought one home for herself, and when I wanted to play, my parents found me a three quarter size guitar and my mom kept a week ahead of me in the book. They kept me at it (little kids never want to practice once the first enthusiasm wears off) for 30 minutes a day until when I was around 12 years old. Once I discovered old blues tunes, jazz from the ’20s, fiddle tunes-all the pre-1940s music-nobody had to make me practice any more.
I hung around Folk Arts Record store in San Diego, where I heard great music on records and was introduced to the many living blues and folk artists who played for the owner Lou Curtiss, either in tiny store concerts or at the San Diego Folk Festival. Lydia Mendoza, Sam Chatmon, Howard Armstrong, and many others.
2) Who are your main influences?
Guitarist Memphis Minnie and pianists like Cow Cow Davenport and Fats Waller.
3) Describe your musical style…
I’m trying to play full band arrangements on solo guitar-or harder!-ukulele! Incorporating the bass player, the horns, the different melody lines.
4) Where are you based?
Seattle Wash. since 1997. We have an excellent jazz scene here; they dance the Balboa and play space-funk and all styles in-between in Seattle.
5) Best gig to date?
Most interesting and grand is the Woodford Festival in Australia-very diverse and surprising. (And worst?) I’ve forgotten!
6) Do you have any albums/singles available?
I’ve recorded 19 albums, almost all are in print at www.hobemianrecords.com
7) Have you played Boulevard Music before?
Yes, many times. Boulevard is a great supporter of traditional acoustic music—I always enjoy playing there.
8) What can we expect from the set?
You will be distracted from your cares and woes, amused, stimulated and you will hear music that satisfies like a good meal.
9) What do you have planned going forward, after this show, for 2018?
I am teaching ukulele and guitar all over the US this year, with England and Europe on the calendar for 2019. Go to www.delreyplays.com for my updated tour schedule.