by Sarah A. Peterson
Fresno bluesman Glen Delpit has been making music and art for almost half a century. Kings River Life sat down with the artist and musician to discuss art, blues, and the creative process.
KRL: How long have you been playing music and making art?
Glen Delpit: I pursued art in high school and college, starting as an art major in college in 1966. I learned to play music a few years later when I was living in the Bay Area, around 1969 or 1970.
KRL: What instruments do you play, and what kind of music?
GD: I play guitar, sing, and write all of the songs that I perform. I think of myself more as a singer/songwriter, although the style of guitar I play when I perform solo is somewhat unique, in that it is based on an early American blues style using a bottleneck on my finger. It’s close to what is called Mississippi Delta Blues; some call it “slide guitar.” But when I perform with my band, it is more modern electric music, though still rooted in American blues, folk, and rock.
KRL: What musicians did you listen to while growing up?
GD: The earliest ones were Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino. Then along came the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. And then all of the great blues musicians—Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson.
KRL: Did you always want to be an artist and musician?
GD: When I was in college, I thought I might do something with my artwork, but as for music, it was the farthest thing from my mind. It just sort of happened. I’d always loved music and worked in record stores over the years; I had a guitar that I couldn’t make heads or tails of. But when I moved to the Bay Area, I roomed with some coworkers from the record store, and they showed me some chords on the guitar. Then when I came back to Fresno, I met a fantastic guitarist named Mike Kelley. He was a music teacher and though I never took any lessons, we became good friends. He showed me chord progressions and scales and the like; after that, my ear developed and I progressed on my own.
KRL: What art mediums do you work with?
GD: I work with mixed media. I use acrylics and I paint on wood. I use found objects, which find a new purpose when used in my work, almost as if they were meant for that purpose. I also make shadowboxes, and use acrylic, assemblage, collage, and text on wood.
KRL: What themes do you explore in both your art and music?
KRL: Whose music/art has inspired/influenced you the most?
GD: Many artists/musicians/writers/poets have inspired me—the cubist painters, poets like Kenneth Patchen, artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell, Edward Hopper. Also many musicians, too many to even name. But as far as influence, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, and the early blues singers like Robert Johnson.
KRL: Where have you played locally?
GD: Virtually everywhere—the Warnors Theatre, Tower Theatre, the Wilson, the Saroyan. I’ve probably played on the Audie’s Olympic stage and at the Wild Blue (when it was in existence) more than anyone ever has. Nowadays it’s Peeve’s Public House, a weekly gig at Brewbakers in Visalia, and at Audie’s the first and third Fridays of the month.
KRL: How long have you been a part of ArtHop?
GD: I have had a studio and participated in ArtHop for the last 13-14 years. But before I had my studio, I played music at the now defunct Frank Arnold/Jane Whitehurst Studio.
KRL: What events do you have planned at the Fresno County Library this summer?
GD: I’m part of the Reading and Rhythm program, so I’m playing at a number of Valley libraries, including Parlier, Reedley, Firebaugh, Mendota, and Tulare.
For more information on Glen Delpit and his upcoming performances, please visit www.glendelpit.com.
Glen’s remaining library performances are:
July 23 at 5 p.m. at Firebaugh Library, 1315 O Street
July 30 at 6 p.m. at the Kerman Library, 15081 Kearney Plaze
August 13 at 5 p.m. at Parlier Library, 1130 E. Parlier
Check out more local band & musician profiles in KRL’s music section.