Music News & Reviews

Delta Rae returns to Triangle for hometown show

Country-rock act Delta Rae will perform at the Outlaw Music Festival May 25 at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh.
Country-rock act Delta Rae will perform at the Outlaw Music Festival May 25 at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh.

Delta Rae is a throwback in an AutoTune kind of era. Its members are influenced by books more than pop culture.

For the band with Triangle roots, it’s all about rich, organic harmonies.

“We love to read and we love to sing,” said Ian Holljes, a singer-songwriter-guitarist, while calling from Boston. “Books inspire us.”

“A Long and Happy Life,” the act’s latest EP, includes references from such Southern novelists as Pat Conroy, William Styron and Reynolds Price. The name of the project is from Price’s book of the same name.

“Great literature has had an impact on our lives and our music,” Holljes says. “It can’t help but affect what we do.”

And then there are the harmonies. The country-rock act, which will perform a hometown show Saturday at the Lincoln Theatre, delivers rich melodies and gorgeous harmonies, which recalls rock crafted during the early ’70s in the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles.

“So much great music came out of there, and if we’re ever compared to that, it’s a huge compliment,” Holljes says. “The Eagles made so much music there back then. I admire what The Eagles did then, since there was no boundaries when it came to their creativity. They had freedom of artistry and they exercised it. We’re trying to do the same thing.”

Delta Rae, which formed in Durham in 2009, has veered from country to rock to folk and blues. The lineup also includes Holljes’ brother, vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist Eric Holljes and sister, vocalist Brittany Holljes, vocalist Elizabeth Hopkins, bassist Grant Emerson and percussionist Mike McKee.

“I think it’s healthy to just go out there and play what comes from inside of you,” Holljes said. “I don’t understand how you do it any other way.”

Holljes wishes Delta Rae existed during the ’70s.

“It was a very cool time,” Holljes says. “It’s fine now but it’s just different. It’s a strange time to be a musician. Technology has taken over. So much is done on the computer. It doesn’t matter so much about having a great voice when you have AutoTune.

“But we don’t think about that. We have two great singers,” he said, referring to Hopkins and his sister.

Hopkins is the primary singer on the EP. However, the Delta Rae singers share lead vocals on the band’s upcoming album, which the group recently completed.

“It was such a long process making the EP and the album that’s going to come out pretty soon,” Holljes says. “I’m just glad we can focus on playing out now.”

The upcoming project doesn’t have a name or release date yet. But expect Delta Rae to preview some songs at Saturday’s show.

“We’re very excited about the new material,” Holljes says. “New is good.”

A new baby is on the horizon for Holljes, who will become a father in October.

“That’s going to be amazing,” Holljes says. “I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like to have a son. This is the most amazing year of my life.”

Holljes’ son will be raised in Raleigh. (The rest of the band lives in Nashville.)

“We love living here,” Holljes says. “I love how laidback it is here. The people are great. It’s an amazing music scene. Our only regret is that we’re not here that much since we’re always on the road like we are now. But the cool thing is that we’re coming back, and we’re going to be playing the Lincoln Theatre. We’ll be able to play to family and friends. We’re certainly looking forward to playing the hometown show.”


Who: Delta Rae with Lauren Jenkins as the opening act

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26

Where: Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh.

Cost: $25. 919-821-4111 or