Country band Deslondes pose in van
Bobbi Wernig

Rooted in Country: The Deslondes on Sons of the Pioneers and the Joy of Old 45s


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Since the release of their 2015 self-titled album, The Deslondes (Dan Cutler, Sam Doores, Riley Downing, Cameron Snyder and John James Tourville) have been a staple of New Orleans country music, winning over scores of fans in the Crescent City and beyond with their blend of Sun Records-era rock and roll, southern R&B and old school country.

The Deslondes' timeless sound can be attributed to the fact that the band's members are ardent students of music history.

Band member Riley Downing, an avid record collector, says his deep love of country music history was born out of digging through bins of old 45s and discovering an obscure tune from the early Western group Sons of the Pioneers.

"It all started with my first country 45 that I actually still have. I had been exposed to lots of what they used to call young country in the '90s and classic country from the '50s on up. But the first 45 that ever caught my eye and I had to hear was The Sons of the Pioneers' 'Old Man Atom,'" Downing says. "It was a bright green 45 as a handful of the first ones ever were on RCA and it was cracked in half. There was no internet to look it up on at the time and it's mysterious appearance and song title prompted me to get the crack to stay together good enough to play it and the sheer weirdness of the song got my attention and I had to hear it again, and again and maybe just one more time. The missile noises they make hurt my ears now, but the song and what they are talking about is still relevant.

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I think around the same time I found this, I found a Johnny Cash EP 45 on Columbia that had "Ballad of Boot Hill" and another song that you could not hear on an LP, but had to listen on the 45. I personally put the needle burn and grey lines in that record and it doesn't play very loud anymore. From there I kept going and looking for more of these mysterious songs that you could only find on a 45 rpm record and a 78, though those where harder to get the same volume out of unless where the post-war ones. Anyhow, it's all there if you go looking. I don't think I'm even a quarter of a way down the full rabbit hole that there is to go down. So I keep looking, learning and loving the history of country music that's out there for us to find and I'm always happy to share just a little bit more info on the subject with the next guy/gal who's interested in digging this stuff up too." 

The Deslondes will release their latest album Ways & Means on July 8 via New West Records, their first since 2017's Hurry Home. The album, produced by Andrija Tokic,features collaborations with Margo Price, Twain and Billy Contreras.

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Ways & Means is available here.

READ MORE: Rooted in Country: Abbey Cone on Miranda Lambert's 'More Like Her'

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