Jersey Delta Records is an independently owned and operated record label based in New Jersey’s historic and mystical Delta Region. Management and staff are direct descendants of the area’s unique local population whose musical and cultural roots can be traced well beyond the commencement of official record keeping which was not formally established in many parts of the region until the late 1930’s.
The history of the Jersey Delta remains greatly undocumented and subject to wildly disparate accounts and descriptions. Largely unrecognized by the state’s governmental authorities “The Delta” has sometimes been referred to as the “Deadwood” of the East. As late as 1957 the famously independent inhabitants of this isolated fiefdom remained exempt from any formal regulations as to alcohol, firearms, tobacco, mandatory education, speed limits, and public displays of affection. The local clans and chieftains did, however, enforce strict prohibitions against accounting, the wearing of neckties, and school prayer.
Consigned to relative isolation by its Northern Highlands, rugged Eastern coast, Western Salamander bogs, and Southern “Sinkhole District”, cultural intolerance, racial prejudice and many forms of modern technology remained virtually unknown as the rest of the American continent grappled with segregation, religious intolerance, woman’s suffrage, hate crimes and terrorism. The Delta’s rich history of passing songs from one generation to another and its embrace of the bandana as an everyday headdress for men are widely acknowledged to be many standard deviations beyond the national average. With urbanization came a transformation to the use of more modern instruments and arrangements although many of the earliest known recordings feature traditional folk instruments including the nose whistle, the handsome dougie, and the bloody magoo.
During the “Great Migration” in the early part of the 20th century thousands of residents from the Delta’s southernmost reaches left their homes and settled in the region’s northern urban centers. This confluence of musical traditions resulted in the creation of a more modern and eclectic musical hybrid which produced legendary performers including Ruben Harrison and Mas Gordas, “Moleface” Rizzo, Rocco and the Stingrays, Chink Vliet, B. Russell “Sprouts” McCann, George Unverzagt, Crabwoman Strueble, The Watchung Mountain Boogie Boys, Kumar "Taint" Funni, Mildred Barrellhausen, Crippled Bessie Calhoun, Chuck Bowers, The Wolves, and Fritz Coleman's Champagne Orchestra.
To this day the Jersey Delta remains the only location in the United States, outside of Louisiana, which recognizes Parishes rather than Counties. Boats still cross the channel, old women tie tomato plants to wooden stakes with strips of cloth torn from old bed sheets, and music in the Delta, old or new, is good if it is good in the end. And lo, the peoples were one, and they had all one language, and that language was not confounded so that they might understand one another's speech, and they twined with their mingles, and in music found their happiest homes.