G. Love & Friends at Misquamicut Drive-In, August 10
Come on down to the social distancing party of the summer! G. Love & Friends will be joined by special guests Organically Good Trio, featuring DELA, at the Misquamicut Drive-In, Westerly, Rhode Island.
Tickets are available now but are extremely limited. Click here for details.
DELA and Steady Rock Easy
In the spring of 2018, DELA left California and moved back to the East Coast. He immediately began reconnecting with former band mates from American reggae stalwarts John Browns Body. With the help of drummer Tommy Benedetti and former trombonist Brian Thomas and with the additions of former G-Love bassist Timo Shanko, guitarist Van Martin (Big Daddy Kane, Organically Good Trio), and keyboardist Cameron Greenlee (The Skatalites), DELA formed Steady Rock Easy.
They have been bringing the music of Opening Night to clubs around the northeast and have also begun work on a follow-up album to the Stoopid Records release.
About Dela & The Aggrolites
As the story goes, a series of unique, unexpected, and unforgettable circumstances gave birth to Dela and The Aggrolites…
In 2009, Slightly Stoopid saxophonist and arranger Daniel “Dela” Delacruz first met iconicflautist and producer Karl Denson [The Rolling Stones] when Denson guested during a summertime Stoopid gig in San Diego.
A year later, Dela found himself in the most precarious of positions. Diagnosed with “a really large baseball-sized brain tumor,” he would be rushed into surgery. Scheduled to perform at theAustin City Limits Festival, his bandmates sought out Denson to pinch hit.
However, Dela resiliently recovered just in time.
“I was able to overcome adversity and show up,” he smiles. “As a saxophonist, I was actually a huge fan of Karl—don’t tell him that though,” he laughs. “I saw him with Greyboy Allstars, and I loved his work with Lenny Kravitz. We just had a vibe right away. We realized Slightly Stoopid’s music made more sense for a three-piece, so he became a regular with us. It was a messed-up twist of fate that brought us together. Thankfully, it did, because we’ve got a lot of music to make.”
It took a little encouragement from Denson though. As the two toured together in Slightly Stoopid, Denson asked to hear some of Dela’s solo compositions one afternoon on the bus. Instantly entranced by the galactic fusion of jazz and reggae piping through the headphones, he laid out plans for what would become Dela and The Aggrolites.
“One listen, and he was like, ‘I know what we’re going to do with this’,” recalls Dela. “I was like, ‘Hold on, we?’ He had the grand conception for the whole record. I had definitely always wanted to do something like this, but I just lacked the vision for it. That’s why Karl was so instrumental. All of these ideas were just sitting there on my computer. His assurance brought everything together. We’re family now. He’s one of my best friends and the godfather of my son. We share holidays together. He’s the reason for the renaissance in my career.”
Working from those original demo ideas amidst increasingly busy schedules, the two assembled the framework for the project with Karl producing and performing. They swiftly executed a successful 2012 Kickstarter campaign to fund recording and reached out to frequent Slightly Stoopid tourmates and L.A. reggae stalwarts The Aggrolites to collaborate.
As Dela puts it, the foursome—Roger Rivas [B3, piano], Jesse Wagner [guitar, vocals], Jeff Rofredo [bass], and John Asher [drums]—“are so true to the traditional style of music coming from Jamaica in the sixties that they added legitimacy to what we do.” Over this reggae backbone, Dela, Denson, and an A-list cadre of players effectively brought jazz to the islands with technical virtuosity and impressive improvisation.
“For all intents and purposes, this is arranged like a jazz record, but it has a legit reggae institution in The Aggrolites driving the whole thing,” he continues. “It happened naturally.”
Over the course of 2013 through 2015, they tapped the talents of powerhouse players such as Rashawn Ross [Dave Matthews Band, Lettuce], Andy Geib [Slightly Stoopid, Wise Monkey Orchestra], and Marco Benevento [Trey Anastasio] to round out the sonic palette, recording to tape at Audio Design in Southern California and then refining on Pro Tools.
“The album took time, because we had to make it right,” he affirms. “It needed to have all of these people. I’ve met so many amazing and incredible talents along the way throughout my career journey. We needed all of them. Then, I had to learn how to release a record!”
Teaming up with Megaforce, the band bring their full-length debut Opening Night to the masses in 2017. They introduce the collection with the instrumental funky flow and starkly funny narrative of “Atlantic and Smith” featuring Angelo Moore of Fishbone and brought to life in a vivid animated video.
“It’s a very true story,” chuckles Dela. “Atlantic and Smith are two streets in Boerum Hill Brooklyn. I lived there for two years in this railroad flat. One day, I left an iron on the top shelf of my book shelf. Don’t ask me why the hell I did that. I walked by and yanked the cord accidentally. The next thing I know, the iron hit me in the head. I saw some stars, but came out of the daze with the bassline in my head. Angelo is a huge influence on my life. I’ve always looked up to him. I knew he was perfect to tell the story in a spoken word way.”
Elsewhere, Chali 2na of Jurassic 5 turns up with locked and loaded Los Angeles-style bars on the enigmatic and engaging “Loose Screws.” Meanwhile, Dela and Karl lock into a solo volley on the mind-blowing “Way About Ya.” “It’s like a dialogue between the two of us,” he continues. “At the end, Karl takes it to another level.”
Ultimately, Opening Night is just the beginning for the group though.
“This is the first of many albums, hence the title,” Dela leaves off. “I wanted to make it feel like you were coming to the opening show of something you hadn’t ever heard before. Musically, I wanted to go in a different direction. I’ve been playing Jamaican-related music since I was 16-years-old. I’ve never seen anyone try to make an album like this. When you’re listening to it, I hope it feels good. It resonates and sounds familiar, but it’s new. It’s also a symbol of one of the best friendships I’ve ever cultivated.”
Check back for future shows