The Deslondes/The Buffalo Skinners – The Fulford Arms, York, 3rd September 2015
Nearly a fortnight ago Please Please You – the local, independent live music promotion company – was in the Fulford Arms for its 10th birthday party celebrations. Now it is back here, embarking upon the next decade with what promises to be a most special series of September shows.
The first of these events features The Deslondes and The Buffalo Skinners, connecting Louisiana with the East Riding of Yorkshire through their shared love of roots music. Both five-piece bands play hour long sets tonight with Scarborough’s The Buffalo Skinners taking to the stage first. Though their name may conjure up images of more conventional cowboy songs, their music is painted vividly across a much broader canvas, using a palette that draws easily from traditional folk and rock’n’roll. The Buffalo Skinners may well dive headlong into a deep well containing England and America’s musical past, but when they emerge from the other side the resulting sound is both vital and refreshingly new.
The Buffalo Skinners play songs both old and new. Of the former, ‘Ballad of Hannah’, whose languorous, slowly evolving nature stirs up fond memories of Fairport Convention’s similarly epic ‘A Sailor’s Life’, and the ensuing ‘Seventh Street’ – both taken from the band’s self-titled 2011 debut album – are particular highlights. Of the latter, ‘Remember Me’ points towards a continuing bright future.
Named after the New Orleans’ street in which vocalist and guitarist Sam Doores lives and where the band were first formed, The Deslondes also make strong musical connections between the past and present. For them, their principal points of reference are folk, country and good old fashioned R&B. Listening to them play, you sense that the names of Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Ray Charles and Sam Cooke will all feature heavily in their individual vinyl record collections.
Yet for all of that glorious heritage, The Deslondes are able to firmly locate their music in the here and now, blurring any lines that may otherwise exist between the old and the new in the process. Their set is a glorious exercise in musical history. There is the sprightly two-step of ‘Louise’, featuring the delightful pedal steel of John James Tourville – something he repeats to even more frantic, dizzying effect on the following ‘Yum Yum’; the beautiful slow blues of ‘Low Down Soul’, with an impeccable vocal delivery from drummer Cameron Snyder; and the vintage rock’n’roll of ‘The Real Deal’ with a rattling Link Wray induced solo from Tourville.
There is even a song inspired by the 60’s TV western series Bonanza which somehow survives the bridge breaking free from Dan Cutler’s stand-up bass. And then without missing a beat, he and Snyder manage to patch up the ailing instrument during a delightful new time waltz performed by the other three band members. The concluding ‘Depression Blues’ – the song’s life-affirming quality belying its rather morose title – and a two song encore that includes a rousing bluegrass romp through Townes Van Zandt’s ‘White Freightliner Blues’ is icing on what has already been a very rich cake.
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