Delta Wires

Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

The Delta Wires is a big, high-energy harmonica and horns blues band from the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area. They were Finalists out of 100 band representatives from blues societies all over the world, in the Blues Foundation's 2008 International Blues Challenge held in Memphis TN, and were voted "BEST BAND" Oakland/East Bay in Oakland Magazine's annual readers' poll, and also by the East Bay Express. The DELTA WIRES were inducted into the California Blues Hall of Fame in December, 2012.

Delta WiresThe DELTA WIRES have recorded 6 CDs, and have appeared at the San Francisco Blues Festival, the Russian River Blues Festival, the Monterey Bay Blues Festival 8 times, headlined the Shasta Blues Society’s Redding Blues by the River Festival, have played Crescent City Blues Festival, Central Valley Blues Festival, Oakland Blues and Heritage Festival, Sacramento Jazz Festival and Jubilee, and many others.

The DELTA WIRES have toured or played with many noted artists including Van Morrison, John Lee Hooker, Freddie King, The Neville Bros, Dr. John, The Doobie Brothers, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, John Mayall, Charlie Musselwhite, Boz Scaggs, Bad Company, The James Gang, Elvin Bishop, and numerous others…

The DELTA WIRES name was derived from the image of a band with modern, "electric" instrumentation, playing a style of music born in the Mississippi "Delta". What began as a college project and anthology of blues music from the Mississippi Delta to the South Side of Chicago, inevitably evolved into a band which has become known for its originality, versatility, and crisp, tight, exciting sound.

Leader and founder of the DELTA WIRES. Ernie Pinata started playing harmonica when he was 16, playing in coffee houses and at open mike nights around the Bay area. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts where he formed the DELTA WIRES as an undergraduate project doing an anthology on the history of the Blues from the Mississippi Delta to the South Side of Chicago.  This particular photo was taken at the Oakland Coliseum while Ernie was singing the national anthem before a Raiders sell-out crowd.  A student of renowned Oakland vocal coach, Judy Davis, Ernie has gained a reputation as an extremely energetic performer and one of the most emotional harmonica players on the scene today.

Rich Healy is a phenomenal guitarist who, after subbing periodically with DELTA WIRES over the years, finally joined full-time in 2003. Under the influence of a musical mother, grandfather, and uncle (who played drums for Lawrence Welk, "I loved him anyway"), Rich started playing guitar at the age of 10. His early influences were Bill Haley, Del Shannon, Fats Domino, and Elvis, then later the Beatles, Sons of Champlin, James Brown, Paul Butterfield and James Cotton. As a teenager he was heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, and Kenny Burrell. He studied guitar for several years with Jerry Hahn (of Gary Burton and John Handy), and studied Jazz Theory with Tom Coster (of Santana). 

Tom Gerrits - He started playing gigs at the age of 12, and has done everything from rock, to country, to Jazz, to blues, to Big Band gigs for all the major contractors in the major hotels of San Francisco. He played in The College Of San Mateo Big Band under the direction of Dick Crest and won the "Best Soloist" award in the national College Big Band Competition in Champaign, Illinois. After transferring to San Francisco State he played in the Big Band there also. Rich has played on many recordings as a sideman in both LA and San Francisco, and has just finished a CD project with Melvin Seals (of the Elvin Bishop Band and Jerry Garcia Band for 20 years). Rich has been teaching guitar since he was 19, and currently teaches at Gelb Music in Redwood City and Wollmers Music in San Mateo, as well as a guitar class at St. Mathews Catholic School in San Mateo. Before joining Delta Wires in 2003, Rich worked with San Francisco blues singer Beebe Price, and throughout the years has worked or shared the stage with Mike Bloomfield, Herbie Hancock, John Lee Hooker, Boz Scaggs, Dan Hicks, Sons Of Champlin, Charles Lloyd, Lenny Williams (Tower of Power), Al Martino, Ray White (Frank Zappa), Frank Martin (producer), Chris Camozzi (Michael Bolton), Tom Coster (Santana), Peter Tork, Norman Greenbaum, and Mingo Lewis.

His philosophy in playing music is simple: "I want my music to come from my heart and to give people a few hours relief from the troubles they may encounter during their day - I give each show all I have!". See Rich perform and you'll soon realize there's NO DOUBT ABOUT THAT!

A childhood friend of Ernie Pinata and a founding member of the original DELTA WIRES, Tom is a veteran of over 30 other San Francisco area bands, including the San Francisco rock band Orion, Woodside's "33" with Patti Cathcart of Tuck and Patti, Citizens Band, and Sacramento's PDQ. Tom started studying classical guitar at the age of 13 and eventually taught standard quitar before switching to the bass. Tom played bass for over 30 years, the great majority of that time with DELTA WIRES. He is featured on the band's first three CDs, and part of "them that's got" when he was temporarily replaced by Dave Coltrara while Tom built a home in Truckee. Tom also serves as the bands webmaster.

Jim Orsetti - A Bay Area musician with extensive experience, Jim has worked with the Temptations, to musicians from Cold Blood, Tower of Power, and Freddie Hughes. Having played since the age of 9, he has received the John Phillip Sousa Outstanding Musician Award in high school, as well as accolades from the Berkeley Collegiate Jazz Festival. He has studied with the legendary Hal Stein and is currently a faculty member of the La Honda Summer Music Camp. Jim joined Delta Wires in early 2001.

Gerry Jonutz -  is the newest "Wire" having joined the group in the summer of 2010.  Reunited in the Delta Wires horn section with his twin brother Larry on trumpet, the Jonutz brothers were the original horn section for the group "Cold Blood".  Working with Lydia Pense, Cold Blood's lead vocalist, Gerry traveled and shared the stage with such greats as Elvin Bishop, Santana, Vanilla Fudge, 3 Dog Night, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Deep Purple, Blood Sweat & Tears, the Doors, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Kenny Rogers & First Edition, the list goes on and on.  Gerry's talent and energy are a great addition to the DELTA WIRES, and we're honored to have him.

Larry Jonutz - This veteran musician brings with him an extensive and varied musical history. A brass trumpet player since the age of thirteen, Larry played with the United States Sixth Army Band for three years perfecting his technique under the most demanding of venues. He is the original trumpet player in the famous band, Cold Blood and can be heard on Cold Blood's first two albums, and the Best of Cold Blood. His influences include Jazz and Big Band and he has appeared with such classic notables as Lou Rawls and the Coasters. After years of playing, and now reunited with his twin brother Gerry on saxophone, Larry still brings a spontaneous charm and energy to his stage persona.

Tony Huszar is a very experienced, high-energy, kick-ass funky drummer who joined DELTA WIRES in the summer of 2000. He was raised 80 miles east of Chicago and 150 miles from Detroit, where his early influences ranged widely from blues and big band swing to Motown and Rock and Roll. Tony started formal drum lessons at the age of 7, and between formal classical training and learning to play with records that ranged in styles from Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, and Count Basie to the Beatles, Kinks, and Rolling Stones, he was ready to help form his own first group and started performing at the age of 10. Playing with Concert and Jazz bands all through High School and also a Dixieland Blues Band, there was never a doubt how Tony's post high school years were going to be spent.

At the age of 18, Tony saw a live performance of The Mahavishnu Orchestra featuring guitarist John McLaughlin and a drummer named Billy Cobham that changed his life. Inspired by this new and powerful instrumental Jazz fusion style, Tony helped form his own instrumental fusion group for a year and then gravitated back to his rock roots, always driven by the power and energy that is so synonymous with rock and roll. At the age of 19, Tony landed a gig with a high energy show band booked out of Las Vegas, and left his home town of South Bend Indiana for the next 4 years, playing up and down the eastern seaboard mainly from Boston to Philly, and occasionally as far south as Florida and north to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Playing 6 nighters for 4 years with only a few weeks off a year, the experience proved invaluable in helping him discover himself and create a style of drumming that he could call his own!

From there, Tony helped form an all original progressive rock group, "RuffCutt", which toured the Midwest and shared the stage with groups like, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Aerosmith, The Rossington -Collins band, and Robert Palmer. He later moved to the bay area in 1983 and performed in Northern California with The Legendary "King of Twang", Duane Eddy, (Peter Gunn Theme), session tenor saxophonist Steve Douglas, blues guitar sensation Robben Ford, and even Chris Isaac.

Tony never gravitated too far from his roots in jazz and Blues and found himself at home in the summer of 2000 when The Delta Wires asked him to join. That partnership helped Tony complete his 360 degree return to his first love of hard driving roots music which being the drummer of The Delta Wires affords him!

"I love to lay it down and keep it tight so the rest of the band can feel free to create and never have to wonder where the groove is"!


Click the PLAY button above to start the stream