July 1, 2011

John Lisi and Delta Funk

John Lisi

Stephen Stills once said that the “one thing blues ain’t is funny.” Obviously Mr. Stills has never sat in on an evening with John Lisi who, along with his band, Delta Funk, has made a career of turning the pitfalls of everyday life into funky-bluesy body-shakin’ music that just makes a person feel better. Hailed as one of the best guitarists in Louisiana by Offbeat magazine — quite a compliment in a state known for its musicians — John marries his sometimes humorous, sometimes serious lyrics with a guitar that can cry the blues one minute and break out the funk the next.

Originally from New Jersey, John began writing songs before he could play his first chord on a guitar. But it was when he first saw a replay of Woodstock that the direction of his life became charted. He watched in awe as Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townsend and Alvin Lee wailed on their guitars. Already proficient on the trumpet, the young musician knew then that he wanted to learn to play music like that. By the age of 15, John was playing in bands in Tampa Florida with much older musicians, honing the skill that would later become his trademark. Then it was on to Los Angeles, where stints with blues, funk, rockabilly, swing, reggae, and even metal bands would lead to the montage of genres that defines his music today. He also did studio guitar work for popular shows such as L.A. Law and Quantum Leap.

After a few years performing on stages across the United States, Europe, Canada and Mexico, John made New Orleans home and soon found himself playing with legends such as Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Raful and Kenny Neal, Rockin’ Tabby Thomas, Byran Lee, Henry Gray, Big Joe Turner (Elvis Presley’s bass guitarist), Galactic, Big Luther Kent and Tab Benoit. John was also a member and principal song writer for blues super group 6 Strings Down.

Amidst a plethora of talent, the young man made a name for himself through his offbeat portrayals of life, the honesty ringing from his sultry voice and his ability to make his fingers fly over a Dobro, mandolin, steel guitar or Stratocaster as the mood took him.