Sweet Delta Dawn

A Conversation with guitarist Jack Peterson
by Adam Benavides
October 2019

Sweet Delta Dawn (L to R): Jeff Clarke, Jack Peterson, Joe Murray, Jay Volberg - photo by Sweet Delta Dawn

Sweet Delta Dawn (L to R): Jeff Clarke, Jack Peterson, Joe Murray, Jay Volberg
photo by Sweet Delta Dawn

After playing throughout Madison for almost a decade, Jeff Clarke (bass, vocals), Jay Volberg (keyboard), Joe Murray (drums) and Jack Peterson (guitars, vocals) of Sweet Delta Dawn have become a go-to for venues looking to book classic covers and Phish-like jams.

Fresh off a summer album release and prepping for a Halloween-night gig at The Brink Lounge, Max Ink chatted with guitarist Jack Peterson about what has been a pretty rocking 2019.

MI: Thanks for taking the time, Jack! For the uninitiated, what is Sweet Delta Dawn all about?
JP:
Well, Jeff and Jay, our two founding members, have been around for almost 10 years and have always taken an improvisational, loose approach in the vein of one of their biggest inspirations, Phish.

We also embrace other influences like Stevie Ray Vaughan and classic ‘60s and ‘70s acts like Pink Floyd, Hendrix and The Band. So, that combination gives us a pretty cool sound and style.

We’ll often do tight renditions of covers while staying loose enough to switch to improv jams, which adds a wide open, unpredictable feel to our sets.

People have liked our originals, too, and our new drummer, Joe, who joined the band about a year ago has added a lot to our sound.

MI: And there’s a real psychedelic rock vibe, right?
JP:
Definitely. We’re huge on jamming to create interesting music with our collective styles and influences. As a group, we’ve always connected with the Grateful Dead and Phish and we try to bring that vibe to our shows.

We actually play in the 432 hertz frequency, instead of the standard 440 tuning, which is known as the frequency of our planet. The thought is that it helps make both our music and audience connect harmoniously and maybe perk some ears up a bit more.

Don’t scientifically quote me on that [laughs] but it’s been fun for us.

MI: You guys have been around Madison’s music scene for a while now. What is it like to be a band here?
JP:
Well, everyone just has a great attitude. Most bands and musicians try to help each other out and we often see each other’s shows and try to share opportunities when we can, whether it’s a gig or a newspaper interview, etc.

It’s about pushing each other up and wanting everyone to succeed.

You can imagine that’s not always the case, so we’re just grateful to belong to a community like that.

MI: Your new album Midnight Circus dropped this summer after years in the making. Congratulations, man! Tell us about it.
JP:
Yeah, we’re excited! When I joined the guys had some material but not quite enough to make a full record. We wrote a few songs together and finally got it released this past June.

It’s a concept album about a hypothetical journey into a circus and we have this great little circus-themed album cover. We added a Queens of the Stone Age-type thread of tracks between songs where you can hear someone hopping on a bus going to a circus, getting off the bus and then walking in, etc.

Jeff wrote a funky, high-energy tune called “Talking to the Devil,” which features some great keyboard, bass and guitar riffs. Our favorite might be “Eastern Dimension,” an instrumental piece with lots of piano that we’re excited to jam live.

There are great jams and instrument collaborations throughout and we’re really proud of it. We also live-tracked the entire album and did a jam session during each take.

Right now, you can check it out on Soundcloud and iTunes and we have copies at our shows.

MI: Super cool! Looking ahead to the Halloween gig, what do you hope people get from your live show(s)?
JP:
We want to blow them away, so they hopefully say, ‘Wow, that was impressive!’ We’re really focused on being the best musicians we can be to give people that experience—we love seeing people have that reaction.

We’ve also developed a pretty expansive light show that we do in-house. We use lights from the old Orpheum Theatre stage and they’ve added a lot to the live experience.

At the end of the day, we want to share an open, nice, kind vibe and have people come out to enjoy a positive musical experience. That’s why we do it.

MI: Love it. Thanks again for chatting and good luck at the show!

The Brink Lounge Presents: Halloween Extravaganza!
• Halloween Night – Thursday, October 31 @ The Brink Lounge
• Featuring:
o Magic Conch
o Sweet Delta Dawn
o White Bush Unicorn
• 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.
• FREE SHOW ($5 donations At Door)
• FREE Door Prizes
• Costume Contest
• $1 raffles.

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