If you didn't check out Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas on July 13 at Soda Bar, you missed out on a spiritual reawakening of the senses.
To describe the show, I'd have have to use rapper Bun B's audacious vocab -- the concert was Chuuch! Without all the preachy sermon, Hernandez gave us the gospel of her life through song and virtually every performance was accompanied by her blazing trombonist, John Raleen, and a fiery organ thumping from Taylor Pierson. The Detroit band left every ticket-holder breathless and feeling guilty for tithing only $8 for such an energetic and soulful performance.
Hernandez, a petite musical gangstress, rocked many instruments, everything from guitar to drums to tamborine. As is her signature, she was dressed in thrift-shop chic, wearing a red plaid pleated miniskirt topped with a cropped sweater, white knee-high socks and black Mary Janes. Hernandez even chopped her long black mane to a medium cut for this summer's tour. The Mexican-Cuban-American looked like a gothic Cleopatra schoolgirl who could star in a Kill Bill flick. Her weapon of choice: a microphone.
The Motor City songstress touched on themes of the heart in "Caught Up," which was written for friend going through an emotional divorce from a husband. Hernandez is a modern-day feminist with songs to both be empowered by and to reflect on. She has self-confessed self-taught music skills and a love for community instilled by parents' and Cuban grandmother.
It was a diverse crowd at Soda Bar rangin from 21 to fiftysomethings. While we waited for the band to arrive, an older gentleman, who told me he saw the band play at Bar Pink in March, mistook my cameramen and for members of the band's entourage. We were flattered by thought, though. He later told us he thougth the band was “ridiculously good.”
Hernandez has the billowing, gut-wrenching chops of an Adele, the blues of an Amy Winehouse sans the drug-rehab drama and the feel-good spirit of Selena's “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” complete with dance moves. That's not to say that Hernandez is a goody two-shoes; in fact, she does touch on substance abuse in “Young, Dumb and Drunk.” As she explained to me in our SoundDiego TV interview, which will air this weekend, "Everyone has a 'secret evil' side to them."
During the night I noticed one fan, Luis Ramirez, sitting in one of the booths with his crutches laid out and foot propped up on the seat. Two songs into the show, the 25-year-old picked the crutches up and made his way closer to the stage.
"About a month ago, while YouTube surfing, I stumbled on Jessica's videos and thought she was pretty cool," Ramirez said. "I almost didn't come to the show because two days ago, I broke my foot. But here I am and glad I came because the show was awesome.”
Hernandez performed 12 tracks, including one from her upcoming full-length debut, Secret Evil, which drops Aug. 19 on Instant Records. At Soda Bar, Hernandez exorcised our demons and prepared us for the next week. Not bad, for a Sunday-night show.
Stay tuned for GN$F!'s exclusive interview with Jessica Hernandez on SoundDiego this Saturday night. Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas return to San Diego for a show on Sept. 5 at the House of Blues. Stay tuned for info here.
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and hip-hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.