Sam, Riley, & Special Guest Douglas Francisco (II) — Sam Doores + Riley Downing & the Tumbleweeds at the Brick Café, Woody Guthrie Folk Festival 16

Woodyfest 2013: The Deslondes

The Deslondes

The Deslondes

When they appeared on the Brick Café stage dur­ing [Sidenote: This is the sixth post in our cov­er­age of the six­teenth annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. We’ll be alter­nat­ing our report­ing with essays and photo gal­leries from the twenty-sec­ond fes­ti­val in 2019, so check in often for a mix of old and new Woodyfest good­ness.] Woodyfest 2013, The Deslondes were still billing them­selves as Sam Doores + Riley Downing & the Tumbleweeds. The moniker was not only long and awk­ward; it also con­flicted with the dozens of other musi­cal acts call­ing them­selves “The Tumbleweeds.”

When I saw the New Orleans-based quin­tet again three months later, the band had updated the name. As they told me when I inter­viewed them that night, [Sidenote: While I still have the audio from that inter­view, I haven’t found time to tran­scribe it. To be noti­fied when I post it, please sub­scribe to the newslet­ter.] the name comes from the Holy Cross [Sidenote: A neigh­bor­hood located in the Lower Ninth Ward District of New Orleans, Louisiana.] street where the band first wrote, prac­ticed, and recorded.

[The Deslondes play] a rhythm that sounds dis­tinc­tive […] but also [con­veys] an entire pop his­tory that spans New Orleans rhythm and blues, early Memphis rock, Louisiana Hayride coun­try, and every pick-up jazz band ever to busk on Royal Street.

Comprising Sam Doores, Riley Downing, Dan Cutler, Cameron Snyder, and John James Tourville, The Deslondes play coun­try music informed by a deep knowl­edge of all strains of American pop­u­lar music. It’s coun­try that seems like it never parted ways with [Woody] Guthrie’s pop­ulist strains of folk, or felt threat­ened by rock ’n’ roll’s youth­ful ruckus. […] Downing even spec­i­fies in the band’s bio that the traf­fic jam-themed rock­a­billy num­ber “Less Honkin’, More Tonkin’” was inspired not just by George Jones record­ings in gen­eral, but Jones’ early Starday sides, specifically. [Sidenote: Hight, Jewly, NPR Music, Review: The Deslondes, The Deslondes (21 March 2015)]

Woodyfest played a rôle in the band’s for­ma­tion: Doores and Snyder first met Downing at the fes­ti­val 2006 when the for­mer pair were per­form­ing as The Broken Wing Routine. At the time, Downing was merely a music fan who loved Woody Guthrie. He was a “young folk punker farm hand” [Sidenote: Facebook Messenger con­ver­sa­tion with Riley Downing, 10 April 2020.] from Missouri at the time. [Sidenote: Downing’s band, Nothing Else, was based in Kansas City.]

When the band later played Woodyfest as The Tumbleweeds they were in the midst of tour­ing with Hurray for the Riff Raff. Doores and Cutler also played with the lat­ter band dur­ing the tour.

The Deslondes have also toured or opened for the Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers, and John Fullbright. Their first sin­gle, Fought the Blues and Won,” was pre­miered by NPR. [Sidenote: Powers, Ann, NPR Music, Songs We Love: The Deslondes “Fought the Blues and Won” (16 January 2015)] The music video for the song The Real Deal pre­miered on Rolling Stone. [Sidenote: Shelburne, Craig, Rolling Stone, Watch the Deslondes Dodge TVs and Groupies in “The Real Deal” (14 July 2015)]

The Deslondes sopho­more album, Hurry Home, is out from New West Records now.



About Chris J. Zähller

International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.

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