A chance meeting in an Atlanta music store resulted in the founding of roots music band Delta Moon.
Co-founded by Tom Gray and Mark Johnson, the quartet will present “Delta Moon Live!” on Aug. 20 at the Tybee Post Theater.
“Mark and I met in a music store back in the days of brick-and-mortar music stores,” Gray says. “I tried to sell him a guitar out of my car in the parking lot.
“His girlfriend was kind of scared of me, but we found out we lived just a few blocks apart and we started getting together. We both played slide guitar.
“I play with the guitar in my lap and he plays bottleneck-style,” Gray says. “We’d never thought of having two slide guitars in the same band, but it worked and was a lot of fun.”
A roots rock quartet based in Atlanta, Delta Moon also features bassist Franher Joseph, who joined the band in 2007. Drummer Vic Stafford signed on in 2015. Johnson suggested the name Delta Moon after visiting Muddy Waters’ cabin near Clarksdale, Miss.
“We started playing acoustically at first in coffeeshops and bookstores,” Gray says. “Then we started adding members and getting louder.”
At its start, the band gained a unique Savannah connection.
“He had an old postcard of an old road that came down and curved around, that had oak trees and Spanish moss,” he says. “It was the bluff on Isle of Hope. I recognized it right away.”
The band has a busy tour schedule.
“We’ve toured pretty much in North America and Europe,” Gray says. “We won this contest in 2003, the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. People came from all over the world to compete.
“Before that, we had been traveling mostly in the Southeast. Then we played the Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada.
“We went out to the West Coast and just started traveling more around the United States,” he says. “That one trip to Canada led to more trips to Canada.”
Then Delta Moon landed a gig in England and eventually toured in Germany.
“We were selling records in Germany,” Gray says. “We started getting wholesale orders from stores and catalogues there.
“We thought, ‘What’s going on?’ We’d never thought of selling records in Germany.
“One store owner told me there was a movement in Germany for what they called ‘handmade music,’” Gray says. “There were a lot of people interested because they heard it all on the radio. We just fit right into that.”
Sales in Germany continued to increase, so Delta Moon began making appearances there.
“We’ve been going to Germany for five or six years,” Gray says. “It’s been a really good place for us.”
Over the years, the band has recorded seven studio albums and three live CDs. The most recent album is “Low Down,” released in May 2015.
It features 12 songs, including nine originals written by Gray, and covers written by Bob Dylan, Tom Waits and Skip James. It was Gray who wrote “Money Changes Everything,” which became a huge hit for Cyndi Lauper.
In 2008, Gray was named the Roots Music Association’s Blues Songwriter of the Year.
“I come up with the kernels of the songs,” he says. “We collaborate on some songs, or we start jamming and I’ll put something together.
“The best thing to start with is the title. Or start from a feeling.
“You have to have some kind of a feeling that you express in the song,” Gray says. “Sometimes, I have to write about this feeling and have to do all kinds of work to find a title.”
There really is no one way to write a song, Gray says.
“It’s sort of like fishing,” he says. “Sometimes you catch it by the mouth, sometimes you catch it through a fin or the tail.”
Delta Moon has performed many times in Savannah over the years.
“We played in a place downstairs by the City Market that was run by Eric Culberson,” Gray says. “We played on Tybee before, too.
“Years ago, I was in bands playing on River Street before it went upscale,” he says. “The Night Flight was a place down there we used to play. I miss it.”
It has been a while since the band has played coastal Georgia.
“We’ve got some new material,” Gray says. “It’s been so long since we’ve played that area, a lot will be new to listeners.
“We like to get the audience involved. My thing on stage is not so much performing and doing something in front of people.
“I like to connect with people and get people feeling connected with each other,” he says. “We try to do that in a number of different ways.”
There will be something for everyone, Gray says.
“We have some very simple things people can sing and dance along with,” he says. “Sometimes, we’ll get off the stage and get in the audience.
“I picture it as a good time we’re all having together rather than us up there singing at people,” Gray says. “We feed off the audience energy and it all goes back.”
Old songs and new will be presented.
“We’ll be doing quite a bit from our latest album at Tybee,” Gray says. “We’ll also do favorites from our early albums.
“We’ll do a few favorite cover songs that we’ve never recorded but do in our live shows,” he says. “These are various songs that change from night to night. I’m looking forward to coming to Savannah.”
IF YOU GO
What: Delta Moon Live!
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 20
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
Info: 912-472-4790, www.tybeeposttheater.org