April 11: Southern Soul Assembly at Carnegie

southern soul assembly

Music in the round, so to speak; at least, it’s an “artist-in-the-round” collaborative performance of four impressive musicians/songwriters/performers, who are coming toCarnegie Hall on April 11. A touring entourage calling itself the “Southern Soul Assembly Tour” will breeze into town and onto our favorite stage, featuring some impressive names with some impressively notable bios: Marc Broussard, J.J. Grey, Luther Dickenson, and Anders Osborne.

Individually, these guys have the chops, and collectively, I’m intrigued to see what they will bring. They will alternate singular performances, and also combine musical forces to bring a night of storytelling through song. Each of the four horsemen of the assembly is passionate about his roots and music, and deeply soulful in his respectful reverence to a rich Southern musical heritage.

First, Marc Broussard has been called “the golden-voiced Cajun”, the son of celebrated Lousiana Hall of Fame guitarist and former member of the well-known Boogie Kings, Ted Broussard. Brought up in Louisiana, his style has been defined as “Bayou Soul”, a sweet southern mix of blues, funk, R&B, rock, and pop, but never travelling far from those Lafayette roots. Broussard is involved in philanthropic work, having founded the “Momentary Setback Fund” (a good way to describe it, for sure) to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. He released an album “Bootleg to Benefit the Victims of Hurricane Katrina” in 2005, with all proceeds going to help rebuild Broussard’s home state. He is also involved in the United Way and Habitat for Humanity. In 2007 Broussard was involved in an Entertain the Troops tour in the Middle East. He has released several studio albums and one EP.

Next on the roster is JJ Grey, frontman for Florida soul/funk/rock band Mofro. Raised in North Florida by a hard-working Southern extended family, whose characterizations have been woven into the threads of his songwriting, Grey’s music has been described by the New York Times as “Impassioned singing, riff-based Southern rock, cold-blooded swamp funk and sly Memphis soul.” Having toured for the past decade (playing over 125 shows a year), JJ has played innumerable festivals, including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Austin City Limits Festival, Australia’s Byron Bay Blues Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival and Japan’s Fuji Rock. Over the course of his career, Grey has shared stages with the likes of everyone from B.B. King, Lenny Kravitz, the Allman Brothers and the Black Crowes, to Jeff Beck, Los Lobos, Ben Harper, Booker T. Jones, and the great Mavis Staples. JJ’s songs have appeared in film and network television including House, Flashpoint, Friday Night Lights, The Glades, even The Deadliest Catch and the film The Hoot. His first film score was written for the Emmy Award-winning documentary The Good Soldier. JJ also appears on Shemekia Copelands’ Grammy-nominated 2012 CD 33 1/3.

Luther Dickinson, born in Memphis (his father is famed music producer and musician Jim Dickinson), constitutes part three of the mix of performers on the tour. He and his brother Cody pretty much cut their musical teeth at Jr. Kimbrough’s Juke Joint and Otha Turner’s fife-and-drum goat barbeque picnics. With an amazing list of discography, you may know him best as the lead guitarist, co-founder of, and vocalist for, the North Mississippi Allstars, as well as former lead guitarist for The Black Crowes. He hosts Guitar Xpress on the Video On Demand network Lifeskool. He has recorded as Luther Dickenson & the Sons of Mudboy, recorded with Gutbucket, Willy DeVille, John Hiatt, the South Memphis String Band, the Wandering, Shawn Lane, of course the Black Crowes and the North Mississippi Allstars, Lucinda Williams, Levon Helm, the Dirt Dozen Brass Band, Mojo Nixon, and Spooner Oldham. In 2011, as a member of the Americana Music Award house band, he has backed up Gregg Allman, Robert Plant, Patty Griffin, Amos Lee, Justin Townes Earl and countless others. Wow.

Last, but not by any means least, is Anders Osborne, a blues-infused New Orleans transplant from Sweden. Now, I realize that nothing says the blues like Sweden, NOT, but this guy is the real deal, from what I can ascertain from my in-depth research for good old LBSpy. He grew up listening to what we all listened to here, wandering the paths of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Ray Charles, Van Morrison, Lowell George, etc. Then along came the blues of Robert Johnson and recordings of African drumming, and there you have it, life-changing connection, the blues thread that runs through everything. Open D (like on Joni’s Blue) was the key to his signature sound. He left home at 16, played his way through several continents, and eventually settled in New Orleans, which he considers to be his home. Now with at least a dozen albums under his belt, he promises to bring his own style to the Southern Soul Assembly’s table.

So four, count ‘em, four men on the stage, all with astounding backgrounds, remarkable chops, entertaining personalities, and amazing music; working alone, working together, a mutual admiration society of southern songwriters/musicians/ storytellers and more. For links to all their music, lyrics, tours, and more, check them out on Facebook atfacebook.com/SouthernSoulAssembly. I think this concert will be highly enjoyable, inspiring for singers, instrumentalists, and writers. Don’t you want to be there?

– Susanna Robinson-Kenga, LBSPY #52. (April 7-May 5, 2014)

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