“The dream team…Marco Cinelli’s voice, guitar and song writing talents combined with Danny del Toro’s world class blues harp… Best 2019 acoustic release of any genre.”
Who wrote that? Well, I did and I mean every word. Based on this new duo’s stunning debut album release, “Delta Overflowin’ ” which has just come out and is being hailed by the blues media and fans alike as incredibly authentic and world class.
So, who are these two young blues ‘upstarts’ who have caused a heck of a stir with their self-released 12-track gem?
London-based Italian Marco Cinelli is already respected for his song writing, vocals, guitar work and producer’s credit on last year’s stunning “Babe, Please Set Your Alarm”.
That was the debut album from his regular band, The Cinelli Brothers, with sibling Alessandro on drums, which peaked at # 2 in the IBBA chart for most played blues on UK radio.
Danny del Toro is a top Madrid-based blues harp man, endorsed by Seydel harmonicas and established as one of Europe’s most sought-after blues ‘harp’ players.
He has also held his own in the hot bed of Chicago blues stars, sitting in with some of the genre’s harmonica greats. Appearing at such iconic US blues venues as Buddy Guy’s Legends and Rosa’s Lounge, sharing the stage with the likes of James Wheeler, Grammy-winner Billy Branch, Nelly Travis and more.
44-year-old Danny has played with Madrid-based band Cotton Gang, who have dropped two acclaimed albums featuring Danny: “Burnin’ Hot” and “Live At Clamores Jazz”.
In 2010 he ended up in London, working with 24 Pesos, also recording the duet album “Double Dare” with the band’s Julian Burdock, released in 2014.
A year later Danny was based in Sweden, packing venues and in demand for festivals around Europe with his own band. They dropped an album last summer, recorded in Stockholm, the follow-up to their 2017 debut.
Del Toro Blues Band have toured Spain and other European countries with guests including Julian Burdock, Marco Cinelli, Little Gee Weevil, Jonn del Toro, Terry ‘harmonica’ Bean, Alvon Johnson and others.
Danny and Marco met in Spain five years ago and have worked together on tours across various countries. They soon realised they shared a passion for the blues, spiritual and ragtime music, and had a burning desire to recreate the feel and the familiarity of “a crackling old dusty piece of vinyl magic”, focused on the Delta sound.
After a five year wait they finally got the project off the ground. Recorded in London and Madrid, engineered, mixed and produced by Marco and Danny, Delta Overflowin’ features Marco singing most of the lead vocals and playing guitar, with Danny on harmonica and sharing vocal duties on some tracks.
Guest contributions from Hungarian blues artist Little Gee Weevil, Alessandro Cinelli, Jorma Gasperi, Tiago Guy and Hugo Deviers. As a duo, Danny and Marco are a tight fit and their solid and no-frills production values pay off across this album.
But the remarkable thing about the record, is despite this being all new material, there is the undeniable feeling that all dozen tracks are long lost blues recordings from the Mississippi Delta back in the 20s or 30s era, newly discovered in some dusty old US vault.
It so damned authentic; staggering that this was recorded in 2019 and the songs written in the iPhone age. But one gets the impression that this sound they make together is innate in both Marco and Danny, and they didn’t have to try too hard to make it sound as authentic as it does.
UK and European blues radio DJs and media have given the release a vote of confidence and as proof, it went straight into the IBBA (Independent Blues Broadcasters Association) chart (based on UK radio airplay), nudging the Top 10 @ # 13.
Spanish national radio DJ Santiago Alcanda credits the album as being “one of the best records of the year of any style”. Vincent Zimel of La Hora del Blues, Madrid calls the album “a small gem” and goes on to say it “clearly shows that in Europe, there are musicians who can play rural blues as if they were born on a Mississippi plantation”.
They used modern-day digital equipment, but with an old school approach, the musicians all in-the-same room and often just one take to nail a track. No faffing around on multiple overdubs or studio trickery. There really is a palpable chemistry between the musical partners – and they both take to the acoustic format like ducks to water.
Danny says: “This album takes you on a trip back in time, through the roots of the old sounds of American music. Each song has a theme and aims to make you feel that you are inside the story, with the music playing while it happens.
“The creation and crafting of each song from scratch, was really exciting for us both. We both had clear ideas, but the songs developed almost by themselves in the end. The communication between us is great, the ideas flow easily and as collaborators, we are a good fit”.
He cites Sonny Boy Williamson II, James Cotton and Little Walter among his influences, but pushes himself further to reference not only harmonica, but other instruments too.
The opener on the album, “Wastin’ Time No More”, is a favourite choice for radio DJs, and a great start to the set. Feedback from fans, radio and music media unanimously states there are zero fillers among the dozen tracks.
Many will really dig the guest vocal performance from Hungarian blues man Little Gee Weevil on track eight, “Neither Do I”. The gospel and chain gang flavours of “For All My Sins” will be also be a standout for many.
A five-year dream to make this record, but now when he holds the album in his hands and reads/hears all the glowing feedback, Danny admits, “it makes me feel very happy and genuinely moved. It actually sounds even better than what I heard in my head as we were making it”. The 44-year-old is based in Madrid, and tours around Europe with his band and various other bands and artists.
34-year-old Marco now has his say: “Delta Overflowin’ is a journey through the music that thrived alongside the river Mississippi. A humble tribute to a great music, in all the colours that Danny and I grew up listening to”. Skip James, Sonny Boy Williamson and Lightnin’ Hopkins are Marco’s main influences.
“I think you can measure this new wave of Delta players in terms of honesty. Delta Overflowin’ really is an honest record. I think you can tell that we love the blues enough to do it in our own way of expression”.
So, earning his living with an electric guitar strapped to his chest, was it a stretch to deliver a dozen stripped back acoustic tracks? “I love to play acoustic. It’s my natural element.
“Being more exposed and showing people who you really are. I don’t define myself as an acoustic player, but I can tell you that I was made to play acoustic blues music. It is obvious when you hear him, Danny puts himself in the same skin I am in”.
Hungarian artist Little Gee’s vocal on “Neither Do I”, is a real traffic-stopper. How does Marco, who wrote it, feel about his contribution? “You close your eyes when you hear him singing and you travel far.
“When I heard him laying vocals on my song,’ Neither Do I’, I seriously thought about never singing this song myself again. A lot to learn from this incredible blues artist, who many people are not even aware of”. They are now!
- Look out for live shows and festival appearances in the UK and Europe from Marco and Danny in 2020, after several recent sell-out London dates to launch the new album.
- Delta Overflowin’ is out now: http://www.cinellideltoro.com
Words: Joe Thomas