From the bayou to Bourbon Street, New Orleans has been entrenched in musical history and is world renowned for its influences in jazz, Americana, blues and rock n roll. It’s from this city of second chances that five piece musical group, The Deslondes hail from.
The band have been together since 2013 and they wear their musical influences on their sleeve as they lean heavy on a city that has such a rich and vibrant music history, all the while adding their own sense of identity with a sound more closely linked to country-folk blues on their debut self-titled album, before adopting a more psychedelic and electric soul sound on their sophomore album, ‘Hurry Home’.
With a bag of new tricks the band have hit the road and made a stop at one of Manchester’s most vibrant and unique watering holes, Gulliver’s. It’s situated in a lively strip of the Northern Quarter with an atmosphere built for live music, there was a genuine excitement as The Deslondes unsuspectingly took to the stage.
Straight away, Sam Doores (vocals/guitar) introduced ‘Blues in Heaven’ a song that has the crowd entranced and swaying a long with its gentle finger picking and soft vocals. The toe tappers come out in force for the pedal steel guitar lead country rock track ‘One of These Lonesome Mornings’ and the rockabilly frenzy of ‘Hurricane Shakedown’ have people moving but as pointed out by Riley Downing (vocals/guitar) there ain’t much room to dance to nothin’ but the mash potato.
It’s Riley’s earthy country vocals that shine through on ‘Muddy Waters’ as the song takes you to the rural setting of Downing’s childhood, a wistful and reflective piece of music that drifts through the air, before the two step guitar rhythm is brought back for the heartbreaking tale of ‘Louise’.
The biting guitar riff of ‘The Real Deal’ and the classic R&B of ‘Sad Song’ is music that was made for dancing as the crowd begin to move in a less graceful manner, their love for the carefree vibe of the music and their alcohol levels on the rise!
As the set begins to wind down with the frantic ‘Less Honkin’ More Tonkin’ and the country gospel of ‘Those Were (Could’ve Been) The Days’, Downing talks of the value in pre-WW2 vinyl records and with a smirk on his face, he says “We got some pre-WW3 records on sale for y’all to buy” a tongue in cheek sales pitch that would make Del Boy blush.
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For any live band from New Orleans, it’s an unspoken rule not to abide by the confines of a structured setlist and for the last four songs of the night, the band give a hat tip to their influences and musical heroes. First a Pete Seeger cover of ‘Passing Through’ and a cajun waltz song that was sung entirely in French by James Tourville (fiddle/pedal steel) – the latter may have left the crowd unable to sing along but was blissful all the same. Ending the night with ‘Sea Cruise’ a song made famous by Frankie Ford and finishing off with a J J Cale track ‘Drifter’s Wife’.
The Deslondes have kept their roots close to their hearts while adopting an innovative style that pushes their music forward, it’s done in a way that gives a nod to where they come from while looking ahead to where they could be. When these boys come to town, you know you’re in for a night of musical masterclass and you know that the good times are just gonna keep on rollin’.