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The Bayou Bandits

Southern rock with a personal touch resonates with veterans, Southern rock fans and more

Article by Lynette Carrington

Photography by Tracy Scheffer

Originally published in Gilbert Lifestyle

The Bayou Bandits put out a great performance of Southern-inspired rock, but there is much more heart and soul to the band when one looks a little deeper. The Bayou Bandits released their self-titled debut album in late 2019 and the sound and the power behind their words and music resonate with a diverse audience.

Joshua Strickland is lead singer and songwriter for The Bayou Bandits and also plays rhythm guitar. The Walker, LA native moved to Arizona in 2014 and now calls Phoenix home. Jeremy Madig, Paul Williams and Stevie Belcastro round out the band’s roster. “Jeremy and I founded it and we share co-founder status,” says Strickland. “We were initially jamming together.”

An early corporate gig in 2018 led to an incident when the band needed an official name. “Initially, we were going to be called The Joshua Strickland Band,” explains Strickland. “The guy who booked us said, ‘No, you need to come up with something cool!’ So, I wanted to highlight something significant where I was from.” The name of The Bayou Bandits was christened during a quick off-the-cuff conversation.

Initially, the band played cover tunes, but then fans were wanting to hear original songs. “Jeremy and I primarily write all the lyrics, and our first song was ‘Take Me Back.’ Jeremy wrote the majority of it, but it was sort of surreal because all my family is back in Louisiana and I’m the only one out here other than my core family. He wrote that song about me and how I felt about longing to go back home to Louisiana.”

Strickland served in the Army for 12 years, including serving in Afghanistan and some of his experience has spilled over to flavor some of The Bayou Bandits songs. One song entitled “Kandahar” recounts his time serving in the Afghan city and the toll that being a soldier can take. Strickland says, “I wrote that song in honor of one of my buddies who wound up losing his battle with PTSD after we got home. All the big military organizations like Wounded Warrior Project – they’ve all been privy to that song.” Strickland writes from the heart drawing from various personal experiences in his own life.

Another recent song not on the album is entitled “A Nurse’s Story (Save You).” The Bayou Bandits pay tribute to all those on the front lines of the health care industry that are caring for COVID-19 patients. In addition to being a musician, Strickland is also a RN. “I wrote it because ever since the outbreak, I’ve been a COVID nurse,” says Strickland. He had traveled to the East Coast to assist in his RN capacity during the initial surge in the pandemic and wrote the song based on what he saw and experienced during his time there.

Although COVID-19 put their tour on hold, The Bayou Bandits anticipate hitting the road in support of their debut album as soon as it is safe. Strickland was one of the first in the state to receive the COVID vaccine and he’s keen to play out once again. 

In addition to his work as an RN and musician, Strickland is involved with veteran-focused nonprofits. One organization is Southern Arizona Musicians for Healing which helps veterans by raising awareness and funds for vets dealing with mental health challenges. Additionally, Strickland is a co-founding member of Veterans IV Veterans Motorcycle Association which assists veterans in crisis. In 2020, Strickland was recognized as ‘Veteran of the Week’ by the Federal V.A. in Washington.

Visit http://wwwthebayoubandits.com for more information and links to purchase The Bayou Bandits album.

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