The barely year-old quartet Delco Nightingale doesn’t play rough-and-tumble crust punk, but instead travels back to the 1940s, channelling the ghosts of Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and George Gershwin. With upright bassist Sawyer Thomas, vocalist Erin Berry, guitarist Greg Phoenix and drummer Eddie Everett, Delco Nightingale take big-band, jazz and swing standards and rework them for four instruments.
Taking pieces written for upward of 12 instruments and paring them down to something both recognizable and cohesive is a bit of a challenge, but the group have adapted well. The band’s interpretations are lively and bouncy, with plenty of attitude and expression. The sparse arrangements don’t detract from the songs, but instead allow the band to highlight the backbone instrumentals and, of course, Berry’s nuanced, sultry vocals.
“I like the songwriting because it’s so clever,” Berry explains. “It’s real storytelling and poetry, and it’s easy for me to sing these songs because you can live them while you’re singing them. You can think about who you’re talking to—the guy you’re in love with, or whatever the song is saying. You can really relate to it. They’re just great songs, and I think they deserve to be as much in the Top 40 right now as they did back in the day when they first were.”
“In the ‘40s, rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t invented yet,” says Everett. “This was their rock ‘n’ roll. All the parents were like ‘Oh my God, you’re going to see [jazz clarinetist] Benny Goodman?’ They were like rock stars.” ■
Sat., Dec. 12, 9:30pm. With Jet Weston and his Atomic Ranch Hands + Greg Phoenix. Tritone, 1508 South St. 215.545.0475. tritonebar.com