Matthew Vasquez swears that he still busks for spare change. “I made, like, 30 bucks on a street corner in Kensington, London, a couple of months ago.” He has busked regularly since he was a kid, and even though his band Delta Spirit is now an international touring act, he calls busking one of the most honorable things a musician can do. In fact, had Vasquez (a native Texan who was just passing through San Diego on his way to Los Angeles) not sat down to sing and play guitar outside a bar late one night in the Gaslamp, it is likely that Delta Spirit would never have happened. “I met Brandon [Young] while busking.”
In the beginning, Delta Spirit learned their trade by playing a local club circuit that included the Beauty Bar, the Sports Club, and the Ken Club. They drove to Orange County gigs in a rusted green van they would often spend the night in. They dumpster-dove behind Trader Joe’s (“the best,” says Vasquez, “because they double-wrapped their throwaways”). When a cabin in Julian came available, they stocked up on alcohol and recorded their debut Ode to Sunshine over two five-day sessions.
We talk via phone. I can hear an acoustic guitar chugging out some rustic chords in the background. That’s Kelly Winrich, writing a song out on the front porch. “A lot of songs on History from Below are the product of three years of writing songs in hotel rooms and presenting them to each other at sound check.” Now they write music together, and that they live within walking distance of each other in Long Beach should help that process. “Long Beach is basically like North Park,” says Vasquez, “and all of our close-knit friends just kind of migrated here.”
Darker My Love and the Fling also perform.
DELTA SPIRIT: House of Blues, Friday, December 10, 7:30 p.m. 619-299-2583. $16.