Fiery anthems and tumultuous confessional songs punctuated with glorious, raw guitar.
Deep blues guitar, rugged, soulful singing, superb hard-hitting songs from scorched-earth, funky hard rock to sweet and tender ballads. A phenomenal blend of reflective self-awareness, and rambunctious spirit and muscle.
Between the potency of his richly detailed songwriting, his intensely emotional, soulful vocals and his piercing, expert guitar work, New Orleans’ Anders Osborne is a true musical treasure. He is among the most original and visionary musicians writing and performing today. Guitar Player calls him “the poet laureate of Louisiana’s fertile roots music scene.” New Orleans’ Gambit Weekly recently honored Osborne as the Entertainer Of The Year. OffBeat named him the Crescent City’s Best Guitarist for the third year in a row, and the Best Songwriter for the second straight year. Osborne also won Song Of The Year for his composition, Louisiana Gold.
Since the release of his 2010 Alligator Records debut, American Patchwork, his 2012 follow-up, Black Eye Galaxy, and his critically acclaimed 2013 EP, Three Free Amigos, Osborne has earned hordes of new fans. He has toured virtually non-stop, either with his road-tested trio, as a solo artist, or as a guest with his countless musical admirers, including Toots and The Maytals, Stanton Moore, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. He’s appeared on Galactic’s Ya-Ka-May album, and in 2011 produced and played on critically acclaimed albums by Tab Benoit, Johnny Sansone and Mike Zito.
Now Osborne delivers the next chapter of his spiritual odyssey, Peace. With the new CD, Osborne continues the journey started by American Patchwork and Black Eye Galaxy, emerging from a whirlwind of emotional chaos and moving toward a sense of inner peace. Recorded at Dockside Studios in Louisiana and produced by Osborne and Warren Riker, Peace looks at the title subject from all angles. Drawing strength and inspiration from his family and friends, Osborne created the most observational record of his career. According to Osborne, “Peace is light from darkness. The songs are written from the outside looking in. They are not making any judgments. I’m just stating facts. I’m writing from a brighter perspective. There’s less dusk and dark, and much more sunlight. The results are greater than I expected. The driving tones and sounds are free and natural. This is one of the coolest records I’ve ever made.”
Since his recording debut in 1989, Osborne has written virtually all of his own material and contributed memorable songs to a wide variety of artists. Two tunes co-written by Osborne appear on Keb Mo’s Grammy-winning 1999 release Slow Down. Country superstar Tim McGraw scored a #1 hit with Anders’ song Watch The Wind Blow By. Osborne’s compositions have been covered by artists as diverse as Brad Paisley, Tab Benoit, Jonny Lang and Kim Carnes. His songs have appeared in multiple feature films. He can also be seen performing in an episode of HBO’s New Orleans-based drama, Treme.
For more information visit andersosborne.com
2013 Peace (Alligator)
2013 Three Free Amigos (Alligator)
2012 Black Eye Galaxy (Alligator)
2010 American Patchwork (Alligator)
2007 Coming Down (MC)
2006 Tipitina’s Live 2006 (Shanachie)
2002 Bury The Hatchet with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux (Shanachie)
2001 Ash Wednesday Blues (Shanachie)
1999 Living Room (Shanachie)
1998 Live At Tipitina’s(Shanachie)
1995 Which Way To Here (Okeh)
1993 Break The Chain (Rabadash)
1989 Doin’ Fine (Rabadash)
By ERIC BESSON | Gumbo Editor | Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 3:00 pm
Anders Osborne, a singer, songwriter and guitarist, is one of the most-respected artists in New Orleans.
Osborne will shift from blues with a metal edge to a slow love song to a reggae beat before doubling back to rock. Versatile, deep, innovative, spontaneous and enthralling (especially live), Osborne’s music is indicative of a man who wants to understand himself and the world around him, his sound as uniquely Anders Osborne as his thumbprint.
He also plays extremely well with others. Osborne on Sept. 28 joins Robert Randolph and the Family Band for a Best of the Bayou performance. One month later, he’ll contribute to two Voice of the Wetlands sets.
Also next month, on Oct. 8, he’ll release “Peace,” his third LP with Alligator Records.
The questions, about his influences, collaborations, the nature of art and “Peace,” and his full, verbatim responses, are below.
– Your Best of the Bayou headline act with Robert Randolph won’t be the first time you’ve graced the stage with the pedal-steel virtuoso. What was it like performing with him the first time, and how do your styles complement one another?
Both of us are pretty energetic, you know what I mean. We have a lot a lot of energy going on. I might be a little shy of the amount of energy Robert’s got. (laughs). He’s pretty frantic, and I love that. I think some of the blues background, you know, a little bit of that feel that we both carry, the spiritual and gospel vibe and blues. I think, in general, sometimes you have to try things to learn and grow and enjoy something. Most definitely, it’s a big experience to play with Robert.
– Beyond Randolph, you frequently collaborate with other musicians, both on albums and on stage, whether it’s Luther Dickinson, Johnny Sansone, the Voice of the Wetlands Allstars, Galactic … the list goes on. Why are you inclined to joint-efforts?
Well, the same reasons. I think, basically, when you play music, it’s really great to have your own band to work out your own little things. But basically, it’s just you and your band members repeating the same old opinion, you know, the same things you’ve been doing. I think sometimes it’s like an injection of creativity and inspiration when you mix it up and you meet somebody you haven’t played with before or, even if you’ve played with them, just to kind of mix it up. It keeps it really fresh for me. I feel like my learning curve stays a little sharper.
– You can pick anyone, dead or alive, to share the stage with for one song. Who are they, and what is the song?
A few things come to mind. I would love to jam with Lowell George. I would probably do “20 Million Things.” But I also have to say, Ray Charles, and if I could play slide behind him playing solo piano on “Georgia” would be pretty cool.
– Many of the on-stage collaborations are unrehearsed. What is it about music’s language that can allow strangers, in some cases, to mesh their talents within minutes?
I think it’s like a conversation. It’s like a meeting of the minds. When you speak in the language of music, there’s so many possibilities. It’s kind of like jousting a little bit, it’s like sparring, it’s like exchanging positive messages and negative messages. It’s like exchanging ideas and communicating. When you do it on the spot, especially with people who are very versatile and have a big musical, vocal vocabulary, I think it becomes, like I said before, it’s just very inspiring. You learn a lot, and you walk away from the conversation with some more knowledge about yourself and about music in general.
– You chose to adopt New Orleans as your hometown over just about every other place in the world. Why have you stayed south Louisiana (for 30 years)?
I think I chose Louisiana because Louisiana chose me. I was loved the most in Louisiana. (laughs) The people were the nicest here. I also have family, actually, in Lafayette. My grandfather used to live in New Orleans, for a long time.
– When you say the people loved you, how did that resonate with you?
It’s inspiring. It’s a sense of acceptance. I was a teenager when I got here, so a lot of things were based on just feeling comfortable with yourself. There’s a lot of emotional and psychological growth that goes on in your teenage years, you’re trying to figure things out. I think at that time, it was a good fit. You’re allowed to be pretty much as eccentric or as noneccentric as you want here, and it all fits in. That’s not just New Orleans; Louisiana in general is a very special place.
– You were at the T-Bois Blues Fest in April, Best of the Bayou this month and Voice of the Wetlands in October, so you’ll have spent a lot of time in the Bayou Region lately. What does coastal Louisiana represent to you?
It’s freedom. It makes me feel happy. It makes me feel free. It makes me feel that anything is possible. It is such a fertile ground, and it’s such a beautiful mixture of so many different cultures and nationalities that have meshed together here over a period of two or three hundred years. And you can really feel that. I think also the coastline is unique. There’s nothing like it in the whole world. It provides everything you need. You’ve got everything you need here.
– Back to your music. Who or what is your inspiration?
My family, my wife, my kids, and I think some of the internal turmoil and the happiness that goes on inside myself. That’s always an inspiration to trigger for songwriting and trying to express things. Then I also think, musically, the culture of Louisiana is a great source of inspiration, you know the general attitude, the general approach to everyday life is really inspirational. I think also a lot of the originators of southern rock ‘n’ roll, you know the Allman Brothers and, even though they’re West Coast, the Little Feat, … a lot of jazz has really inspired me. Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Cannonball, stuff like that.
–Your dad reportedly helped expose you to jazz – if so, how did this shape your current improvisational skills?
I think it’s been pretty instrumental because when the foundation is mainly drawn from horn players, I think the way you approach your instrument is a little different versus if my first exposure would have been just blues guitar or rock ‘n’ roll. But it wasn’t. It was mainly jazz. I think that has helped me a little bit in how I approach it when I improvise.
– Can you be specific?
Once again, I bring it back to the Allman Brothers and even Grateful Dead. What jazz does, it opens up the chordal structures, it opens up the solo structure, it allows you to do anything you feel like during the solo part. I think I’ve been very inspired by that.
– Your songwriting is lauded for inspiring deep, sometimes existential thought from your listeners. Across the wide spectrum of New Orleans art, does anyone provoke you do to the same?
A lot of people do. It doesn’t have to be a specific artist. There are a couple of songs by Dr. John. Dave Bartholomew wrote some old tunes, you know “The Monkey Speaks His Mind.” In the bigger picture, I think the sentimental and melancholy aspect of things, I think, a lot of that comes from probably Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Lowell George. I think those are the main influences in how I approach most things.
– Tim McGraw turned one of your songs into a No. 1 country hit. You wrote two tracks on Keb Mo’s 1999 Grammy-winning Slow Down. Brad Paisley, Kim Carnes and Tab Benoit have covered your material. What gives your songwriting this kind of range?
I don’t know. I feel blessed and I feel lucky that people appreciate what I do. I really don’t have an answer for that. I think, possibly, it’s that I don’t really restrict myself very much stylistically, and I think that’s maybe a reflection of why so many different types of people record my stuff. I try to be as honest and as authentic to the song as possible, not to a specific style. I try to cater to the song and make sure that comes out right. Sometimes the styles may vary a little bit.
– Talking about varied styles, “Three Free Amigos,” the EP you released earlier this year. It was billed as free flowing, and you pretty much obliterate any notion of a single genre. What did this album allow you to accomplish?
What I wanted with the album was to kind of show the process of my song writing demo parts. The whole record was made as a demo. The way I would do, basically, pre-production would be that I have a song and then I would go in and either just record it by myself if I wanted to make a little bit of a demo out of it, I would record just myself on vocals and then add bass and drums afterwards and sort of build on a bare skeleton of an idea. That’s what we did. We just went in, and we tried our best not to overbuild it, so it’s long a song demo record, if that makes any sense. I didn’t want it to be all cohesive, just one thing. In the end, you try to sequence it right so that it’s a pleasant listening experience, but the idea was to give you the whole idea of if I go in with 25 songs for a record, this would be six of them that you’d just have as an example. It wasn’t intended to be some kind of major effort. It was more meant to be, yeah, a sneak-peak at the songwriting process.
– On “American Patchwork” and “Black Eye Galaxy,” you sang about personal struggles with addiction while forsaking any effort to keep less-glamorous aspects of your life hidden. Why do you feel introspection and truth are important to art?
I think art is a very vital part of manifesting ourselves on this planet and in this universe. We express ourselves in so many ways, politically and with different personality and so forth. I think the strongest manifestation usually is our art. If it’s not you performing the art, it’s the art that you appreciate and what you surround yourself with, in your house and what type of home you have and car and all that stuff.
I feel that if, as an artist, if with what I’m going through is maybe not always pleasant or my thoughts, they’re very personal, it’s important to me to be honest to that. I think that becomes a reflection. That’s what people are drawn to. The people that are not, that’s OK. They’ll be drawn to something different.
– OffBeat Magazine named you New Orleans’ Songwriter of the Year last year and the city’s Best Guitarist for the past three years, among a litany of other accolades you’ve had over your career. How do you assess your talents, and how do you search to balance them?
I try to improve on all the aspects of the talents that I have, and I try to make sure to do them justice and that I am respectful of the gifts. If something feels inspiring at the moment, say that’s producing, songwriting, or whatever it is, I stay focused on that. I try to improve my skills and my craft. That’s pretty much all I can do.
– We just learned you’re releasing your next full-length album Oct. 8. It’s title “Peace.” What themes do you grapple with? What is the album about, musically and lyrically?
The title track is basically my search for a day of finding peace. That can be interpreted any way you want, but that’s kind of what that song is. Then there are some observations on, you know, getting older, the age I’m at. Some looking back at part of my life and the opportunities and the things that happened that could have led me down so many different paths. But I chose not to go those routes, so I reflect on that. Then I have a song about my wife. I have a song about my daughter and my son. There’s also an event that took place, it was a shooting … Believe it or not, there was a shooting in New Orleans, so I’m tackling that on one of the songs.
– With “Peace,” you’ll have released three full albums in four years, plus “Three Free Amigos,” since you signed with Alligator Records. Do you do anything besides write, perform or produce music?
I try to exercise. That’s about it. Or fix something that’s broke at the house.