“Del Rey, One of the Ukulele’s Most Important Players and Teachers” Ukulele Magazine 2016   Read the story…

“Rey is one of the greatest modern players of the metal-bodied resonator guitar.” Acoustic Guitar Magazine

“Del Rey is one of the most sublime modern guitarists. “ La Hora del Blues Barcelona

Del Rey at the Tucson Blues Festival
Del Rey at the Tucson Blues Festival

I started playing guitar when I was four. At the age of thirteen I was introduced to the world of traditional acoustic music, when a friend and I stumbled into a concert at Folk Arts Rare Records in San Diego. About 20 people were sitting on the floor under the record bins listening to a kid named Tom Waits play his original songs.


Lou Curtiss, proprietor of Folk Arts and artistic director of the San Diego Folk Festival suggested I quit wasting my time playing “Stairway to Heaven” and listen to some Memphis Minnie. He put me on stage with Sam Chatmon when I was fourteen, and introduced me to Lydia Mendoza and Howard Armstrong. Lou gave me recordings that still influence everything I do on solo acoustic guitar. I soaked up country blues, stride piano, classic jazz and hillbilly boogie. It was a musical education hanging around the record shop. 

Thirty years later, I became fascinated with the ukulele. I try to play the same kind of complicated rhythmic blues and ragtime on four strings as on six. I expect a lot out of the little instrument.

 “The ‘ukulele taken to a new level of musicianship”.      (John Book)

“Virtuosic in just the right way, which is to say, in order to realize a musical idea. A very nice unlikely blend of things, accessible, slightly nostalgic, but fresh and thoughtful. ” (CD Baby review, “At The Ukeshack #1)

I play solo concerts world wide and also present a concert/lecture on women musicians called Women In American Music.  I also collaborate and tour frequently with Steve James, Suzy Thompson and Adam Franklin.

del rey and steve jamesplaying guitars
Troublesome urban hillbillies-with Steve James. Photo by Jenny Sampson



Del Rey and Suzy Thompson
Onstage at Centrum Blues and Heritage Festival with Suzy Thompson




Del & Adam Franklin
Del Rey and Adam Franklin at the Great Northern Ukefest 2014


I’ve contributed to projects in honor of The Mississippi Sheiks, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Johnny Cash. I occasionally write about music for various publications, including Acoustic Guitar.

My most recent release is just me, singing with uke and guitar; it’s called Solo. All albums available from Hobemian Records

  • Communique with Suzy Thompson 2018
  • Solo 2017
  • Rocket Red and Ruby Chard with Adam Franklin 2014
  • Art Walk 2014
  • Four and Six 2012
  • Hen Party with Suzy Thompson 2010
  • Blue Uke 2008
  • At The Ukeshack #1 with Matt Weiner 2007
  • When The Levee Breaks 2006
  • Tonight with Steve James 2004
  •  Why Say No? with The Yes Yes Boys 2002
  • Twins with Steve James 2002
  • X-Rey Guitar 2000
  • Hot Sauce1995
  • Boogie Mysterioso 1993
  • I recorded a 45rpm record in 2010, the proceeds of which benefit Transportation Choices Coalition. With Del Rey and the Blues Gators I recorded Chartruese (Hobemian 1991) and Cafe Society (Kicking Mule 1985). 



16 thoughts on “Biography”

  1. Hi There,
    My name is Heather Bristow and I’m helping out with PR for Didmarton Bluegrass Festival (coming up very soon!). One of our local radio presenters expressed an interest in playing one of your tracks to promote the festival. Sheryl, who I believe you have probably dealt with regarding the festival, is away for a week so I can’t get a hold of anything you’ve already sent; in the meantime, would it be possible to email me an mp3 track or two for him to use asap? My email address is or you can ring me on 01-44-1666-503946.
    Many thanks and kind regards,

  2. Hi Del,

    Re: Didmarton Bluegrass Festival
    Our band booking person is on holiday this week & we really need a CD or access to some tracks for the radio stations that are going to want interviews etc about our event. Is there anywhere we can get some sounds quickly?
    And a direct email address?
    Regards, Tracey

  3. Del,

    Thank you for signing your CD for me. I had only known of you before through Gina DiSimone, and was delighted to finally hear you in person and enthralled by your performance. My only complaint about the show at the Strathmore is that you didn’t have enough time on stage. Your CD is a GEM, and your version of ‘Sailing Down The Chesapeake Bay’ is even better than Bing Crosby’s (he didn’t have your wonderful ragtime guitar)! Thank you for preserving and propagating the styles of Memphis Minnie, Etta Baker, etc., and demonstrating that women can put the best male blues hot dogs to shame.

    Have Fun in Dublin,


  4. Del, I just checked out your website and noticed that you were aware of Lee Morse. I have some great info on Lee who played Texas as her star was descending. I’ve done some research on her which I shared with Leon Redbone who was working on a book about her.

    Hope our musical paths cross one day. I record and teach as well mostly down south. Also you might enjoy the Mississippi Mud Steppers (Jackson Stomp). I just stayed in the old hotel in Jackson Mississippi where Okeh records discovered them. Wonderful waltzes and tunes.

    I enjoy your music and wish you the best. Email if you want more info or some good tales to tell about Lee Morse.

    Deb Porter

  5. Hi Del,
    The ukulele workshop in Bournemouth was the most fun music lesson I have ever had, thanks……….. see you next time! Josey

  6. Just got my copy of Blues Guitar Styles of MM and I’m busy hacking my way through it. At one point you mentioned a song that’s “on my other dvd.” What is the name of the other dvd? ‘cause I’m going to want to learn it too. 🙂

  7. Hi Del,
    Film producer from Toronto, Ontario here.
    Researching feature doc on Minnie. Nothing in-depth has been done!? Could we chat further? Your expertise, etc, etc.
    Could we have a number for you? Or could u call us: 416-829-5313
    Thanks for your consideration.
    Paul Eichgrun

  8. Greetings from Ireland!
    I wanted to let you know about a new ukulele festival in Cobh (County Cork). As this is our first year, it will be fairly low key but we have great hopes for the future. Perhaps we will see you here one day! 🙂
    Very best wishes
    Website admin and percussionist with Gilbert’s Lane
    Twitter: @UkeFestCobh

  9. Hey Angie thanks for the tip-I love Cork. I played at the Corner House with Steve James years ago and I’d love to come back-what a cool place.

  10. Hi Del,
    I was fortunate enough to meet you at our 5th Annual Caspar Uke Fest last Saturday. It was a great honor to have a few minutes of conversation with you at last. I have all of your ukulele DVD’s and several CD’s which I listen to all the time. I look forward to hearing your Memphis Minnie Uke DVD and attending one of your shows in the future. Though I am a fairly new uke player it is always a delight to watch your DVD’s and
    hear your CD’s . Many, many thanks for all your great work. I am now one of your lifetime fans.
    Be well and stay always young,
    Larry Butler
    Mendocino, CA

  11. Cant wait till show at barn.If you need anything, Your welcome to come any time from now till cows come home. Jonas

  12. Your Memphis Minnie Songbook class at the Swannanoa Gathering last week left me babbling about how great it was to anyone who would listen. Loved the humour and history. Thank you for making her music accessible for a fledgling blues guitarist.

  13. Thank you for that wonderful, lively, informative and interesting presentation on Memphis Minnie which you gave to the Seattle Music Teachers Association! You are a bright spot on a gloomy gray day, for sure!

  14. I’m sad for you that Seattle doesn’t have rent control. I hate seeing good creative folks being economically forced out of Seattle. Lucky Tacoma to have you!

  15. Del, thank you for what you are doing today at Harborview Hospital. My best friend, Vernie, is a friend and fellow musician of yours. I pray you can reach her through the music you are playing for her today. If anyone or anything can bring her back from her stroke it would be you and the music she plays and loves.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
    Diane Thrasher

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Guitar, Ukulele and a unique world-view…