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    Old souls Durand Jones & the Indications bring back the ’70s

    Rosie Cohe

    If “Don’t You Know” or “Too Many Tears” popped up on your music streaming service, and you’d never heard of Durand Jones & the Indications, you might have to triple-check the track information to make sure these guys weren’t from the 1970s.

    Because their overall aesthetic — from their name, to their album art and font, to their swelling strings, harmonies, and falsetto vocals — is pure vintage soul. These are five millennials who love sweet soul harmonies so much, you get the sense they didn’t just grow up with the oldies station, they worshiped it.

    Marvin Gaye, the Moments, the Impressions, Jerry Butler, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Billy Stewart, Bob & Gene, Smokey Robinson — you’ll find them all on the band’s aptly named Spotify playlist “Indications’ Inspirations.”


    Hearing Durand Jones, 29, talk about the oldies he heard growing up in small-town Louisiana, his joy is palpable.

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    “We lived waaaay out in the country. It was all sugarcane fields. When Earth, Wind & Fire came on the radio, my dad would just swerve across two lanes,” he says with a laugh.

    “I wish you could see him. It just puts a big smile on my face. It was my first introduction to really amazing soul songs. My dad, he’s not a dude who will smile and joke around, so it was really cool to see a song make him act like a teenager.”

    His band’s new sophomore album “American Love Call” has landed them on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “Last Call with Carson Daly,” and “CBS This Morning: Saturday” in recent weeks. They wowed at SXSW, and are now on a North American tour that brings them to Brighton Music Hall Tuesday.

    Not bad for a band that started off a few years ago in a basement in Indiana, whose first show was supposed to be a one-off, and whose first album was recorded for $452.11, including the beer.


    In conversation, Jones is all Southern manners. He’s so humble you have to wonder if he knows how good he is, who says his big goal is “to pay off my student loans,” and whose ultimate goal is to become a music teacher.

    He speaks slowly, softly, deliberately, with a slight drawl. He ends our interview with a quiet thank you. “This was a joy,” he says.

    It’s not just his manners that are charmingly old school. It’s his sound, his band, their whole vibe.

    Jones’s grandmother introduced him to Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, and got him singing in church choir around age 5. “My grandmother played a big part in raising me,” Jones says. “If you were in her house and she was going to church, you were going, too.”

    A big reader as a kid, Jones picked up a children’s book on bebop infusion and John Coltrane that made a lasting impact. “When the time came in school to be in band [at age 11], I picked the saxophone and never looked back,” he says.


    He played saxophone in bands while majoring in music education at Southeastern Louisiana University, then went on to earn his master’s in music at Indiana University — where he accidentally formed a band.

    While coaching horns in the IU Soul Revue, Jones met Blake Rhein, now the Indications’ guitarist, then a student audio engineer who “let people know he was interested in doing soul after class. I took him up on offer,” Jones says.

    Through Rhein, he met drummer/vocalist Aaron Frazer and bassist Kyle Houpt. Justin Hubler was the original keyboardist (Steve Okonski joined later). The guys would gather for Sunday soul jams in Frazer’s basement.

    “Just making music together felt special. I don’t want to overstate it, but it did feel like we were channeling our soul predecessors in some way,” says Frazer, 28.

    “I agree 100 percent,” Jones adds. “It felt magical and organic, hanging out with those dudes every Sunday. There was something so beautiful and spiritual about it. It felt like church in some ways. You would lay all your burdens down and walk out clean and renewed.”

    They eventually came up with original tunes, and planned to do a one-off show in 2014 at the Bishop Bar in Bloomington, Ind.

    “We thought, ‘OK, we did it, great job everybody.’ We thought that was the end,” says Frazer. “I still have the poster that said ‘One night only.’” The crowd said otherwise.

    “The reception was so crazy that we played another show, and then a booking agent reached out on Facebook,” says Frazer. “People cheered mid-song. I’ve played in a few bands, and that’s never happened to me, people just screaming like that.”

    They released a self-titled LP in 2016, and found a cult following in what’s known as the lowrider soul community: a culture of Chicano/slow soul fans and car aficionados in the southeastern California and Texas areas.

    “When you put an album out these days, unless you’re the .01 percent of musicians on a major label, it’s basically a message in a bottle. We tossed our bottle out there and . . . we accidentally stumbled on this lowrider culture, who became the true core of our fanbase,” says Frazer.

    “We’re just so thankful that they’ve embraced us,” adds Jones.

    Through word-of-mouth, brick-and-mortar record stores, and energetic live shows, word spread outside the niche fanbase, landing the band on national stages.

    As for their goals?

    “I still want to be a teacher,” Jones says. “I’d like to explore the philosophy of music. Why we do it, why it touches us the way it does.”

    “I’d like to teach one day, too,” Frazer says. “[And] I want to know Smokey Robinson has heard our music. I don’t need to meet him. I just want to know he’s heard our music.”


    At Brighton Music Hall, Allston, April 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets $18-$20,

    Lauren Daley can be reached at She tweets @laurendaley1 .