Jeremy Lyons & the Deltabilly Boys were most active in New Orleans and on the road from 1997-2005. For a short time after Katrina all three were living up North, though in different states, and were gigging somewhat regularly. While Jeremy and his family stayed, the other two returned home. The group, which used to play close to 200 shows a year now reunites for shows when Jeremy travels to New Orleans.
The Deltabilly Boys blended the rhythms of rockabilly and New Orleans R&B with Delta-infused slide, Piedmont-style fast fingerpicking, surf guitar, and Western instrumentals into a distinct style called Deltabilly.
Jeremy teamed with drummer Paul Santopadre and Greg Schatz on upright bass to found the Deltabilly Boys around 1997. Lyons met Louisiana drummer Paul Santopadre onstage at the 1994 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival with Butch Trivette & the Roulettes. Paul and Jeremy immediately clicked; Santopadre’s schooling in cajun and zydeco bands (Mamou, Steve Riley, etc) blended well with Lyons’ speedy, syncopated finger-picking. Greg Schatz and Jeremy had known each other since the 6th grade when Schatz moved to New Orleans in 1995 to play accordion with Jeremy on the streets in the Big Mess Blues Band. He also subbed for Jeremy’s upright bassist of the time (Steve Lewins of the Solid Senders and the Count Bishops), and took over the role in 1997. Together, Lyons, Santopadre and Schatz packed clubs and barrooms in New Orleans, across the States, and in Europe. They recorded several acclaimed albums, including Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch; Live at the Dragon’s Den; Death of a Street Singer (“one of the best portrayals of the world of New Orleans musicians and street musicians ever recorded” — David Kunian); Live at Fribourg; and Jeremy Lyons and the Deltabilly Boys (eponymous); which was listed as a New Orleans CD of the decade by Tom Morgan of WWOZ. For a short while after Katrina forced Lyons’ relocation to the Northeast, all three members were living in the Northeast; now Schatz and Santopadre are back in the New Orleans area, and the Deltabilly Boys play a handful of dates annually.
After moving to Boston, Jeremy tried to keep the groove going with his “up-North” band, The Jeremy Lyons Trio, sometimes known as Bright Moments, although this band is also now on hiatus. The anchor of the band was “Washtub” Robbie Phillips (Spider John Koerner), an old friend of Kenny Holladay, one of Lyons’ mentors in his early days in Louisiana. Robbie alternately played two basses of his own design: the one-string upright “Wombat” bass (built from a conga drum) and his smaller electric two-string fretless bass diddley bow (literally made of scrap wood and car parts). A rotating cast of drums included Sean “Cave” Mannion (Po Boyz), Jeff Allison (Vapors of Morphine), Tom Arey (J Giles Band), Jerome Deupree (Morphine), and others. Following a series of small strokes, Robbie Phillips went into semi-retirement; Jeremy has since retired the Deltabilly-style trio in favor of newer projects.
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