For nearly three decades, singer/guitarist Anders Osborne has called The Big Easy home and the city's musical heritage has had a profound impact on Osborne's music. Funky and inventive, his blues are inspired by both John Lee Hooker and Doctor John, full of impressive solos and carefree spirit that goes well beyond fiery fretwork.
Speaking from the tour bus in anticipation of tonight's performance at the South Side Music Hall, Osborne spoke about his adopted home and why he likes playing in Dallas.
How long since you have been back to your home country of Sweden? I don't know. Maybe it was 27 years ago.
Do you still speak the language? Very little.
Were you exposed to the blues while you were a kid? I guess a little bit. The initial stuff like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. I guess some of that stuff bleeds in from everywhere.
You made your home in New Orleans a long time ago. Was your place damaged by Hurricane Katrina? Yes, it was. My house was damaged and I had some crops damaged. Then, there were all the problems with getting clean water. One of the worst things was the mail. All of the mail got sent back and stacked up somewhere. Then, it all gets delivered at once and you've got to sort that out. You don't think how much ten months of mail really is. It was stuff we all had to go through. It was bills and mortgages that all had to be accounted for. A lot of people didn't think about the mail and public transportation.
Do you think the government response was sorely lacking? I don't think I am in the position to answer that because I don't have enough knowledge of the whole situation. I can say that the emergency services were not prepared for a disaster of that magnitude.
Tim McGraw covered your song "Watch the Wind Blow By" and it became a big hit on the country charts. When you play the song, do people think you are covering McGraw? I don't play it a whole lot. But I did play it on a solo acoustic tour and some people did ask if I was doing a Tim McGraw song. It's always great to have someone cover your songs. Anyone that wants to cover my songs can do so. I don't care if they are famous or not. It's always flattering and it's always a great honor.
What's more important, the song or the solo? They go hand in hand. I think you need a solo to help people move along and you need a song to have structure for people to understand. If you have a story to tell, then the storyline is really important. A solo is more of a spontaneous composition. You are writing it on the spot and that is really exciting.
Would you rather be on stage or in the studio? I enjoy both for different reasons. I think my natural element is in the studio. I love working in the studio, but I've played enough live to have confidence on stage. I'm not that worried about stuff when I am up there.
If you didn't play music, what do you think you might be doing? Probably, I would be a painter. I like to paint. There's not much money in that unless you get fairly successful.
Your last release was 2010's American Patchwork. Do you have another album in the works? Yes, there's a new one that should be out in mid April. A couple of things on it will be slightly different that what I've done in the past. Hopefully, it will stay in the same tone of what I usually do. I go between the more rocking songs and then I bring in some ballads. I like the melancholy stuff.
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You come to Dallas pretty often. What do you like about the area? Unfortunately, I don't get to tour the cities where I play. But in Dallas, the people at the shows have been wonderful, very hospitable. They seem very educated in the type of music I play. I love playing the Granada Theater. It's a very nice room.
Do you have to live the blues in order to play the blues? Oh yeah. There are some whiz kids who can play all the stuff, but they don't understand the power of the blues. I think you have to have lived through a few things. You have to believe what you are singing about.
Anders Osborne performs with Keb Mo on Friday, January 27, at the South Side Music Hall.