The soul of New Orleans is a force in the music of the Deslondes—with some vintage country music thrown in, too.
You won’t want to miss them when they perform at 8 p.m., Friday, July 17 at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.
“The music scene in New Orleans is pretty eclectic, and there’s a lot of live music,” said bassist Dan Cutler during a recent phone interview. “What we were mostly involved in, for a lack of a better word, was Americana. (The residents of New Orleans are) big fans of musical history as well as history in general. I feel like there have been a lot of different styles of American music over the years, and they’re appreciated in New Orleans.”
He explained that New Orleans has both traditional venues and nontraditional venues.
“Traditional jazz, brass bands and stuff like that—everyone loves it,” he said. “I think the big part of the music scene that we’re involved in is a big acoustic music scene, because of … playing on the street for tips—which is primarily an acoustic music venue, as far as I’m concerned. Anything you can play acoustically and don’t have to plug in—that stuff is pretty popular amongst our scene of friends.”
Cutler explained how the Deslondes formed in New Orleans’ music scene. “Sam (Doores, vocals and guitar) came to New Orleans, and he was really into folk music. … He was into songs that were written over the past 100 years. We found all kinds of folk music down here that people like to play that sounds like Eastern European folk music. When I came here, I was really into a lot of country and bluegrass music, and that’s how I started playing. I grew up listening to country rock ’n’ roll, like Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons. When I met Sam, he was into the folky stuff, and in my mind, I was into country and bluegrass. We started out a lot more rocking than we are now, and we actually had a full drum kit, and I played electric. It turned into this more acoustic/electric hybrid, and that’s where it is now. When we met Riley (Downing, vocals and guitar), he was into folk music, but as we got to know him, (we realized) Riley probably has the most eclectic music taste out of all of us.”
Roots music is going through a resurgence, of sorts, with many more people becoming more receptive to roots-style music known as “Americana.” Cutler said that everywhere the band goes, people enjoy the sound.
“It varies from song to song, I guess,” he said. “A lot of our stuff sounds sort of different. If we’re playing in the Southwest, they’re really into country music there. People are pretty receptive everywhere we’ve been, but I think that has less to do with the style of music and more with the presentation.”
Of course, being in a roots/Americana band isn’t necessarily lucrative, but Cutler said there are ways to make it pay off if you’re resourceful.
“It’s definitely hard to make a living being in one band. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of putting all their eggs in just one basket,” he said. “A lot of us have full-time jobs and little gigs we play. … You need to figure out different kinds of ways to make ends meet. It’s really hard to make money touring, but we’ve been touring for so long as a band, and Sam and I have been touring around the country now for seven or eight years, so we’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out how to budget, where to go, and where we’ll make more money. In New Orleans, it’s a great place to be a musician, because you can … make a pretty good living at least five or six months of the year, maybe more, depending how many gigs you have, and how many bands you’re in. For three or four months when it’s humid with no tourists, you go everywhere else where it’s beautiful.”
Before the band was known as the Deslondes, some members performed under the name Tumbleweeds. The self-titled debut as the Deslondes, recorded for New West Records, was released in June.
“We recorded it over a couple of years,” he said. “The first album we did as Tumbleweeds was sort of more of a hodgepodge, because we recorded the songs in different places. This album was recorded entirely in Nashville, so it has a sonic consistency, which is great. Recording-wise, maybe half of it was pretty well-rehearsed and well-thought out, but a lot of it was figured out in the studio.”
The Deslondes will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, July 17, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.