SXSW Music Live: Durand Jones & the Indications, Jamila Woods

Old souls, new faces

Young frontman donning a trim kelly green cardigan, Durand Jones & the Indications opened their fourth set of the day on Thursday night the same way they do their recent debut album. Fatback drums and yearning organ set the tone for the searing sociopolitical soul of “Make a Change.”

Durand Jones (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Jones is blessed with a warm voice steeped in the Southern soul tradition, nimbly shifting from sweet ballad “Can’t Keep My Cool” to James Brown dance floor killer “Groovy Babe.”

Durand Jones & the Indications aren’t breaking any new ground, but they’re every bit as sharp as the Brooklyn soul posse of the Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley’s Extraordinaires, and Lee Fields’ Expressions. You’d be hard-pressed to distinguish them from any of those groups, which is both a compliment and a small nit to pick.

The frontman, meanwhile, grew up singing at church in Louisiana before moving to Bloomington, Ind., to study music. He earned a graduate degree in classical saxophone and picked up an ace backing band – the core of which are all IU music graduates – in the process.

Midway through the set, Jones ceded the stage to group drummer Aaron Frazer, who crooned “Is It Any Wonder” in a buttery, high-pitched falsetto while keeping time behind the kit. The ultra-slow ballad landed like a lost 1965 B-side and Frazer sounds like what Mayer Hawthorne must hear in his own head. A band’s drummer isn’t supposed to be able to sing like that.

“He’s our lethal weapon,” quipped Jones when told as much post-show.

Jamila Woods (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Chicago chanteuse Jamila Woods, whose fat braids fell nearly all the way to the floor, wasted no time before landing a gut punch, flipping the schoolyard rhyme of “Miss Susie/Hello Operator” into a Black Lives Matter anthem:

“Hello operator, emergency hotline/ If I say that I can’t breathe will I become a chalk line?”

Woods, who graced hits by Donnie Trumpet/Chance the Rapper (“Sunday Candy”) and Macklemore (“White Privilege II”), fronted a stellar fourpiece jazz-funk ensemble, bringing debut Heavn down to earth by celebrating black girl magic (“Blk Girl Soldier”) and covering Mary J. Blige and Destiny’s Child along the way.

On Wednesday, fans wrapped around an entire city block waiting hours to see everyone’s second-favorite Knowles sister. Any of them could have strolled right into the Barracuda Backyard on Thursday and fallen in love with Woods.

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at Sign up for our South-by-specific newsletter at for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest Tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

More Jamila Woods
SXSW Thursday Record Reviews
Jamila Woods
Heavn (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, March 17, 2017

More by Thomas Fawcett
SXSW Music Live: The Roots & Friends
SXSW Music Live: The Roots & Friends
“This is the best shit of the whole South By!”

March 19, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Prince Tribute
SXSW Music Live: Prince Tribute
Free Auditorium Shores “partyup” rages like 1999

March 18, 2017


Jamila Woods, Durand Jones, SXSW, SXSW Music 2017, Aaron Frazer, Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields & the Expressions, Mayer Hawthorne, James Brown, Solange, Destiny’s Child, Donnie Trumpet, Chance the Rapper, Mary J. Blige

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)