Anders Osborne opens for Gov’t Mule in Vail Friday
Ryan Summerlin September 13, 2012
Though Anders Osborne was born in Sweden, he was always headed to New Orleans, albeit in a roundabout manner. His dad was a professional touring jazz drummer who played all over Europe, so Osborne had both wanderlust and music pumping through his veins from a very young age. As a teen, Osborne started playing guitar and listening to Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell records. He fell in love with the vocal styles of Ray Charles, Van Morrison and Lowell George. Then he heard the blues of Robert Johnson and recordings of African drumming, and suddenly, everything clicked. “Blues connected everything together for me,” Osborne said. “The early rock, the R&B, the jazz, the singer-songwriters. Blues was like a thread running through everything.”Osborne traveled the world, hitchhiking across Europe, North Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East and eventually landed in New York City and hitched a ride to New Orleans with $5 in his pocket. “Once I got to New Orleans, everything I heard in my head – the music, the way people treated each other – was happening. I knew I was home,” he said, though to this day, his wanderlust “comes and goes.” The singer/songwriter/guitarist was both entranced and embraced by the city’s vibrant music community. Shortly after moving there, he found out that his grandfather, a sailor, had lived in New Orleans for many years. His grandfather then began telling him vivid stories of the city, and sharing old photographs. “I just felt connected to his memories,” Osborne said, “and I knew I was where I was supposed to be.”He cut his first two albums for the independent New Orleans-based Rabadash Records in 1989 and 1993, and landed a major label deal with Sony’s Okeh imprint in 1995. Osborne released a series of successful albums for Shanachie and MC Records, before joining forces with Alligator Records. He released “American Patchwork” in 2010. The title of his most recent album, “Black Eye Galaxy,” is an unambiguous metaphor for Osborne’s life as a traveler, a musician, an immigrant, a recovering addict, and as a husband and father. Tonight Osborne opens for Gov’t Mule at Ford Amphitheater in Vail. He answered a few questions for the Vail Daily. Vail Daily: Do you think all of your life experiences early on – hitchhiking around the world, working assembly lines in Israel and digging ditches in Greece – helped you as a musician? Just by giving you fodder for songs or in other ways? Anders Osborne: Yes, I think there is something to spreading your wings, learning from other cultures and peoples wisdom.VD: What was it about New Orleans that really appealed to you and prompted you to settle there? AO: I love New Orleans and New Orleans loves me. And my family is there.VD: You are a singer, songwriter, and an instrumentalist. Which are you best at? AO: That’s for other people to decide.VD: Tell me about a song you wrote recently, and what inspired it. Where do you find most of your inspiration these days? AO: I wrote a song about my brother and I falling out of touch. I am trying to connect with myself and the world around me through songs.VD: Have you performed in our area before? If so, when, and what do you remember? AO: I have played the Gerald Ford a couple of times. Once in 1996 with my band and then once with “Voice of the Wetlands Allstars” right after Hurricane Katrina. I met a good friend in Vail back in the ’90s – his name is Scott or “Weez”; he used to have a reggae show on Vail local radio.VD: Have you been opening for Gov’t Mule a lot recently? How have the shows been going? AO: No I have not, just a couple of shows in the past year. (I) love jammin’ with Warren and the boys.