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August 18, 2017

Brains and beauty buoy Delta Rae

The Raleigh based country-rock act is inspired by the Laurel Canyon wave from the ‘70s

It’s not surprising that Delta Rae’s latest offering, “A Long and Happy Life,” is taken from the title from Reynolds Price’s book of the same name. Delta Rae singer-songwriter Ian Holljes isn’t just a Duke alum but he was also Price’s personal assistant before his band emerged in 2009. Holljes, his brother vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist Eric Holljes, also a Duke graduate and their sister vocalist Brittany Holljes, who collected her sheepskin from University of California, Berkeley, are well read. 

 “A Long and Happy Life” includes references from such Southern novelists as Pat Conroy, William Styron and Price.

“Great literature has had an impact on our lives and our music,” Ian Holljes said while calling from Boston. 

“We all love to read and it can’t help but affect what we do.”

But it’s not all brains with the Raleigh-based country-rock act, which will perform Tuesday at World Cafe Live. There’s also beauty, as in rich melodies and gorgeous harmonies, which recalls rock crafted during the early ‘70s in the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles.

“So much great music came out of there and if we’re ever compared to that, it’s a huge complement,” Holljes said. 

“The Eagles made so much music there back then. I admire what the Eagles did then since there was no boundaries when it came to their creativity. They had freedom of artistry and they exercised it. We’re trying to do the same thing.”

Delta Rae, which also includes vocalist Elizabeth Hopkins, bassist Grant Emerson and percussionist Mike McKee, has veered from country to rock to folk and blues. 

Technology has taken over. So much is done on the computer. It doesn’t matter so much about having a great voice when you have AutoTune."

“I think it’s healthy to just go out there and play what comes from inside of you,” Holljes said. “I don’t understand how you do it any other way.”

Holljes wishes Delta Rae existed during the ‘70s. 

“It was a very cool time,” Holljes said. “It’s fine now, but it’s just different. It’s a strange time to be a musician. Technology has taken over. So much is done on the computer. It doesn’t matter so much about having a great voice when you have AutoTune. But we don’t think about that. We have two great singers.”

Hopkins is the primary singer on the EP. However, the Delta Rae singers share lead vocals on the band’s upcoming album, which the group recently completed. 

“It was such a long process making the EP and the album that’s going to come out pretty soon,” Holljes said. “I’m just glad we can focus on playing out now.”

There is no name for the forthcoming project or a release date, but expect Delta Rae to preview some songs at World Cafe Live. 

“We’re very excited about the new material,” Holljes said. “New is good.”

Delta Rae appears Tuesday, Aug. 22 at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia. Lauren Jenkins will open. Tickets are $25 and $32. Show time is 8 p.m. Call 215-222-1400 for more information or click here