We, at Power Chord, got an invitation to interview and see Delta Deep in New York City. Delta Deep consists of Phil Collen of Def Leppard on guitar, his wife’s godmother, Debbi Blackwell-Cook on vocals, and Forrest Robinson on drums. When he’s available, Robert De Leo of Stone Temple Pilots plays bass.
The chance to see this band and get to talk to them made it worth it to me to get in the car, and drive 1600 miles. Yep I did that. The show was in the Gramercy Park section of Manhattan. The venue is a called The Players. It is the single most unique place I have ever seen a concert. The Players opened their doors on December 31, 1888. Yes, 1888! The place was the idea of Edwin Booth, a famous Shakespearian actor of his day. Sadly, he’s more known for being related to his brother John Wilkes Booth. Even before the internet and 24 hour news channels being the brother of the guy you assonated the President of the United States can bring your career to a screeching halt. So, he and Mark Twain got together to open this place for entertainers to do their work and hang out. It’s kind of like if Kim and Kanye opened a place for people who do whatever it is they do. Or not really.
There are portraits of entertainers all over the wall. These oil paintings were the selfies of their day. There’s dark wood, varnished floors, leather benches, and high back chairs all over the place. This was Masterpiece Theater: Rock and Roll Edition.
One of the rooms has a small stage. The staff brought in chairs and tables for no more than a hundred people. Ushers with white, Mickey Mouse type, gloves showed you to your seat! “Toto, I don’t think we’re at CBGB’s anymore.”
Delta Deep took the stage minus Robert De Leo. This was as stripped down as it could get. Forrest Robinson sat on a box that he played, no sticks, and a couple of other pieces to play “drums.” Debbi Blackwell-Cook had her microphone and her sassy attitude. Phil Collen had a couple of electric guitars and one acoustic and an amp.
The beautiful noise that came from these three, made the hair on your arms stand at attention. I can only imagine what it would be like with a full drum set and Robert on bass. Debbi, as I mentioned before is Phil’s wife’s Godmother. I have no idea how old she is and there’s not enough liquid courage that I could drink to ever ask. She was in charge of the room from the moment she opened her mouth. I get the feeling she’s in charge of every room she’s ever been in and in any situation. If she wanted you to laugh, you’d LMAO in a second. If she wanted you to cry she could do that too, just by the way she can sing those notes. She is truly gifted artist. Her talent just oozes out of every pore.
As for Phil Collen, he is one of the most underrated guitarist of his or anytime. He proved once again, and with authority, that he can play anything he sets his mind to, but not just play it, but feel it. He traded off lead vocals with Debbi. Delta Deep songs have the two of them singing on about half of them. The contrast of their vocal styles works really well together. When you hear Phil sing, it gives you a better sense of how important his voice is in the Def Leppard sound. The set list included songs Delta Deep originals and some great covers ranging from Al Green to Deep Purple.
Somewhere, Edwin Booth was smiling because his place was being put to very good use, true talent was in the house. Then I’m sure he gave his brother another slap in the back of the head for all the trouble he caused him.