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Seratones set to rock Double Decker in Oxford Saturday afternoon

By Jeff McVay

Grit. How many bands — old or new — possess it in this era of music’s electronic, synthesized assistance and core? Very few if I had to guess, but there are some that stand out and disentangle themselves from the multitude.

If you were to research a band and were bombarded by descriptors like “gritty,” “ferocious,” “soul-stirring,” “raw” and “searing” … what image, what sound, would your mind conjure up? Alabama Shakes? Certainly. Ian Hunter? Definitely. The Black Keys, Jason Isbell, Drive-By Truckers, Springsteen, Alejandro Escovedo? Most assuredly.

Enter Shreveport, Louisiana’s latest and most profound musical resource, the Seratones: a young garage rock band with punk roots and an attitude that bristles “you can’t label this.” And they’re headed to the Double Decker Arts Festival this weekend.

The band formed in 2013 and is already making waves, evidenced by its No. 16 ranking in Paste Magazine’s 20 Best New Bands of 2015 — the same year the band signed a three-album label recording contract with Fat Possum Records.

Seratone band members — frontwoman AJ Haynes/vocals, guitar; Connor Davis/guitar; Adam Davis/bass; and Jesse Gabriel/drums — contribute heavily to the “unlabelable” genre that should define the band, but doesn’t.

With a mixture of punk, gospel, blues, jazz and soul influences, it’s no wonder the genre discussion is all over the board in the Seratones’ world. In fact, the absence of a concrete genre has been defined as an “expression of freedom” by the band in several recent interviews. However, undeniable undertones the band can’t dodge are its sturdy and unrelenting rhythm section (Adam and Jesse); A.J.’s soulful vocals and Connor’s “searing” (that word again) guitar work. Juke joint sound at its finest.

Before the band’s sound morphed into a mix of what it is today – an engaging cross between classic blues to surf punk to psychedelic rock – it identified mostly as a punk band.

“Right around the time I met the guys in my band and we started hanging out, they were putting on punk shows and it just felt like home and familiar,” Haynes said in an October 2016 interview with Oxford Town. “It reminded me of being in church when I was in Columbia, Louisiana. It was a small group of people, like a tribe. We were looking out for each other.”

No stranger to Oxford, the Seratones rocked Proud Larry’s in October 2016 in support of the first album under its belt, “Get Gone” (2016). The highly-acclaimed debut album was recorded at Dial Back Sound studio in Water Valley — co-owned by Matt Patton of the Drive-By Truckers who are, in fact, Webster’s official definition of “GRIT.” This big, searing gritty circle of life makes perfect sense, right?

“We’re not necessarily going for pop or punk or blues or jazz, but rather how we make it meaningful for us,” Haynes added. “At the end of the day, we have to sing these songs over and over again, so you might as well state your truth.”

Amen, sister.

The Seratones take the Specialty Orthopedic Group music stage at 2:30 p.m. — right smack dab in the middle of another Double Decker Saturday and a perfect spring day on the Oxford Square.

It certainly can’t get any better than that.

Andy Belt contributed to this feature. He can be reached at andy.belt@oxfordeagle.com.