The saxophone is such a versatile instrument. It can be the main focus of a song or it can provide the finishing touch, like a cherry on top of a sundae. It brings a vibrant dimension that can’t be equaled. Daniel “Dela” Delacruz is pretty good with the sax and he’s become a vital part of the San Diego psychedelic reggae act Slightly Stoopid. He has a short run of New England shows coming up this weekend with his band Steady Rock Easy and they’ll be stopping at the Ocean Mist in Matunuck tomorrow night. Cape Cod party rockers Crooked Coast will also be on the bill.
Delacruz and I recently had a chat about his New England roots, living in San Diego for over a decade, putting out his own album and always having stuff going on.
Rob Duguay: You were born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, you lived in San Diego for a while and now you’re back in New England. How would you compare living in the West Coast versus living around here?
Daniel “Dela” Delacruz: It’s more relaxed in the West Coast in a lot of ways. Living there in San Diego was so good to me, I saw a lot of opportunities out there during a time where a lot of my opportunities around here were kind of stagnating a bit. I took full advantage of the opportunity when I got hired by Slightly Stoopid and I really lived it up without having to deal with the winter so it was a pretty novel idea, I’ll tell you that.
RD: Along with Slightly Stoopid, you’ve also performed with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, John Brown’s Body and Cypress Hill among others. When it comes to collaborating and being a part of a band, do you feel like you have to make any major adjustments depending on who you’re playing with?
DDD: I think it’s part of the discipline that comes with being a musician. You have to have a lot of tools in your toolbelt, you have to be able to move in and out of different situations easily while still having the voice on your instrument. I think that’s kind of what it is that we do as musicians.
RD: You also got to be a part of the Alan Evans Trio track “Black Rider” that came out in March of last year. How were you able to get involved in the song? Did Alan reach out to you personally?
DDD: Alan didn’t reach out to me personally for that one but I know him from him being a part of Soulive and sharing the stage with the band while I was in John Brown’s Body. When I got back to the area, I reconnected with some other friends such as Alex Lee Clark and Brian Thomas. Alex was organizing the horns for that recording session and he had Brian call me so that’s how it worked out. It pays to have good friends.
RD: It definitely does. Another notable thing you got to do was putting out your own album titled “Opening Night” with the Los Angeles reggae band The Aggrolites a couple years ago. What was the experience of making that record like for you?
DDD: It was epic. Karl Denson actually produced the record so it was Karl and I working side by side nonstop for three years. We got to work with some of the finest musicians, people I respect highly. The Aggrolites blended in this signature roots reggae style with rocksteady and ska while playing with a certain degree of authenticity. In order to make the kind of record that Karl and I had a vision for, we really needed them to make that sound happen. They were instrumental in making it all happen.
As far as the rest of the record goes, we have a who’s who of special guests. Angelo Moore from Fishbone, Chali 2na from Jurassic 5, my man Rashawn Ross on the trumpet and the list goes on and on. Marco Benevento was on keys.
DDD: It was really a dream project to put together. I couldn’t have done it without all the people involved. It surely wouldn’t have came out the way that it did.
RD: After this small runs of shows you have coming up, what’s next for you?
DDD: There’s always lots of stuff going on. As I said before, when you’re a musician you have to have a lot of tools in the toolbelt. Slightly Stoopid has some dates coming up and I just got back from performing with them for a two week run in Brazil. I’m going to be conducting this jazz band outside of Hartford so I’m excited about that. I’m also working on some tracks with this reggae band called The Elovators for their upcoming record and I’m gonna be a special guest on a tour next month with the Sublime cover band Badfish.