The Deslondes glide through stylistic barriers. Named after a street in the Lower 9th Ward, the five-man band makes easy connections among country, folk, the singer-songwriter tradition and New Orleans rhythm and blues.
Singer-guitarist Sam Doores formed The Deslondes in New Orleans in 2009. He and the group’s other members migrated to the city from elsewhere, bringing their creative aspirations with them.
Most of the group’s members had been running into one another at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in Okemah, Oklahoma. Later, they found their collective voice in New Orleans.
“We wouldn’t have been the same band if we had done it in any other city,” singer-guitarist Riley Downing said from Nashville, Tennessee, where he’d gone for some songwriting collaboration.
Following the release of The Deslondes’ self-titled New West Records debut this year and lots of touring, the band is playing a hometown show Saturday at Tipitina’s with their latest touring partner, Pokey LaFarge.
Downing began attending roots music festivals during his late teens. The Woody Guthrie Folk Festival was near his then-Missouri home.
“I bopped over there to see what was going on,” he said. “I ended up going back every year, for four, five years.”
At the Guthrie Festival, Downing kept seeing the same young musicians each year, including Doores, a singer-songwriter who left college in Washington state to be a musician in New Orleans.
Downing realized that he and Doores were fellow travelers. That’s also true of the other New Orleans musicians Downing met at the festival. Those troubadours included Alynda Lee Segarra, frontwoman for the now very successful Hurray for the Riff Raff.
During those early festival years and before, Downing didn’t know he was a New Orleans music fan.
“In high school, I listened to some Dr. John and Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and stuff like that,” he said. “But I didn’t put all the pieces together. And when I moved to New Orleans, I was like, ‘Oh, this is where all this came from.’ ”
Downing hears a natural connection between New Orleans R&B and classic country music.
“Like Ernie K-Doe and Snooks Eaglin,” he said. “Even though they add a lot of electric stuff and vocal groups to their records, as soon as you play one of their songs on an acoustic guitar, it sounds like an old country song.”
Classic country, folk and R&B fill The Deslondes’ wellspring.
“We’re all old-record nerds,” Downing said. “We’re always searching for something from back in the day that we haven’t found yet. There’s nothing like it.”