John Lisi

Slammin' funky blues out of New Orleans

Blues music, roots music, rock-n-roll—call it what you will, but John Lisi calls it Delta Funk! Their sound: infectious; their stage presence: energetic; combined with John Lisi’s sultry vocals and original lyrics have John Lisi & Delta Funk! earning their name and living the New Orleans dream. ...To play to drunkards and take their money!

Native to New Jersey, Lisi’s musical beginnings in piano transgressed into trumpeting, going beyond the bounds with his raunchy use of guitars when inspired by greats like Hendrix and Zeppelin. We have to thank his lifelong immersion in musical tastes, and what is now his raw orchestration with Dobro-Mandolin-Lap Steel-Stratocaster to create the sound that makes up funky, bluesy, rock that is Delta Funk!

“I don’t have to do this. I get to do this.”

Late 90’s, New Orleans quickly became John Lisi’s second home, as the city does for so many artists. It didn’t take long before the likes of Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Bryan Lee, Galactic, and Tab Benoit recognized Lisi’s dexterity in multiple genres as an onstage asset. Rockin’ Tabby Thomas’ produced “Long Live the King of the Swamp Blues” with Lisi’s vocals, lyrical flair, and instrumentation in ‘98. And later, with Cody Dickenson and Jimbo Mathus on Lisi’s “Dead Cat Bounce” in ’07.

“In Louisiana, I learned to play with soul and not think about what I learned everywhere else.”

                                                                                        John Lisi’s debut with Louisiana Red Hot Records was in 2002 with the album release of “Blues for Chloe,” backed by artists Big Jay McNeely, Henry Gray, Larry Garner, and J. Monque’D. “Preachin’ to the Choir” (2000) and “Can Ya’ Dig It” (2004), John Lisi’s first two albums with Delta Funk!, were followed by significant work with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, that amounted to a 2006 co-write called “Rising Sun,” and years after, Big Chief Monk’s 2011 album “Won’t Bow Down.”

Who said blues can’t be funky?

Now considered New Orleans-based, Lisi received acclaim in the Blues world with the Slim Harpo Award for Blues Pioneer in 2009, recognized with Dr. John and Alvin Batiste.

Blues-funk releases, “Super-Most-Fantastic” in 2010 and “Take it to the Bridge” in 2013, received positive critic commendation. That resonated more with audiences this year when funk meets blues again in his “Shut The Front Door!,” announced and featured on iTunes. 

Next time you find yourself inebriated on Frenchmen Street… stop at one of Delta Funk!’s Tuesday night ‘Negril shows, order another, and let them chase the demons away from your sweet, sweet soul. Le bon temps roulé!


Photographer: Hope Byrd

Musician: John "Jacky" Lisi

Backstage, House of Blues, 2015