Sounds in the Dark
A Louisiana mixtape
By Durand Jones
Photo by Rahim Fortune
I want to take you to the muggy land-sea of South Louisiana. Where some lusty and curving, unrelentingly tall live oak is standing regal and dazzling at once. Somehow in a way remembering or recalling something. It stands in an open, wide and vast field full of yellow wildflowers from late springtime. Next to the field is a luxurious subdivision of homes, halted from expansion after encroaching onto an unmarked graveyard for enslaved people. Looming beyond the grave is sugarcane, neatly lined, row after row after row until it is met by a chemical plant. A juxtaposition of old and new. The dying agricultural past, met with the grounded industry. The smell of the rich farmland and Mississippi sediment muted by the exhausts of sulfur. It is all telling a story. Of what was and what is becoming.
The influence in my art reflects all of these things.
I am of the South. I was born in New Orleans but I am also privileged to have been raised in a rural part of Louisiana. I’m very honored to have been brought into the world in a place that is foundational to American music and culture. It’s impossible to debate the dominating force of New Orleans culture on Louisiana and the rest of the world, but I am here to show what all of Louisiana has to offer.
Music gave me a chance to see just what that offer revealed.
I played in jazz bands, cover bands, funk bands, and hip-hop groups. Gospel choirs and classical quartets. In marching bands and below stages in orchestra pits for musicals. Each opportunity took me to a new place. Sometimes across the Atchafalaya Bridge into Cajun country. I went to the pine tree forests near the Amite River. And to parts where the ground is clay, and rusty-red. I found something to behold in the sky on a January night in northern Louisiana that I can’t seem to forget. There was also this one night in the summer: sounds in the dark, near the bayou in Pierre Part.
All of these distinctions reflect Louisiana's music.
In all of these places there is nuance and eccentricity—though only to be found if one searches for them. You will find its triumphs and struggles. Its contemplation and joy. I wanted to show all that Louisiana is, can be, and will be in music. I hope you will enjoy hearing the expansive music and musicians from all of Louisiana’s regions.