On The 30-Year Plan

Glen Delpit and The Subterraneans share how they kept it together for three decades.

by Don Priest aka The Hound Dog | kfsrbluesdog@gmail.com

30 Years! About one-third of a lifetime! How many of us can say we’ve been doing something for 30 years, like living in the same house, working at the same job, staying with the same spouse?  In this age of transience, longevity seems almost a lost art.  But that art is not lost on one local band that will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary at Fulton 55 on Sunday, December 3d.

Yes, Glen Delpit and The Subterraneans are 30 years old! Hard to believe, even for them, that a band which began as a side project for the now defunct “Houserockers,” is still performing today.

“A lot of luck and a great mix of personalities,” is how Glen Delpit attributes their longevity.  “Easy going, even-keeled individuals that get along well and are open to a lot of ideas.”

Yes, there have been some changes in personnel over the years. But the core group of Glen on guitar and vocals, with Dean MacDonald on lead guitar, John Suhr on keyboards and Joe Luppino on drums have been together throughout. Even the newest member, bassist Chris Eacock has been a “Sub” for eight years.

As for the music of the Subterraneans, it’s all original and springs from the fertile imagination of Mr. Delpit.  A prolific songwriter who has penned over 500 tunes, he strives to make his lyrics as poetic as possible and follows the examples set by those he considers The Masters.  “T.S. Eliot said, ‘If you’re going to steal, (and everybody does), steal from the best. No use stealing from someone mediocre’ and I follow that rubric,” he says. Thus his songs may contain ideas based on “couplets from Robert Johnson and other early blues greats like Charley Patton, ideas and lines from Hank Williams and of course the master B. Dylan. I doubt I would have written much without his inspiration,” he says.

The result is something he calls “Bluesrootsy Americana,” a style based on Blues/Rock and Folk that’s very lyric driven and very danceable.  Glen has written so much material that the band has already produced 5 CDs worth of his tunes and is currently working on the 6th.

Of course over a 30-year period, you’d expect there to be some significant memories, like the first gig at “The Oly” and early shows at “The Wild Blue”- two legendary venues from days past.  “The Blue was like family. I met my wife there,” says MacDonald.”   The band has also backed Bo Diddley and opened for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Booker T, Dave Alvin (who Glen describes as “the best roots artist in the country”) and most recently for Los Lobos. “That was a real treat,” says MacDonald.

But more than people and places, it’s really the music that keeps this band together. “I love to play,” says MacDonald.  “And if there’s an opportunity to play in front of people that makes it even better.”

As for playing with ‘The Subs’ he offers, “We started as bandmates and turned into friends.”

Friends that have been making music together for over 30 years.  Happy Anniversary Glen Delpit and The Subterraneans!

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