Americana Roots: Anders Osborne

Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US.  It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores.  Emerging from New Orleans and able to sound just as equally comfortable with George Porter and the Meters as he is in Nashville is the highly, intense, personal songwriting of Anders Osborne.

Name: Anders Osborne.

For Fans Of: Sonny Landreth, John Hiatt, Jackie Greene.

Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana USA.


Discography:  ‘Doin’ Fine’ (1989), ‘Break The Chain’ (1993), ‘Which Way to Here’ (1995), ‘Break the Chain’ (1996), ‘Living Room’ (1999), ‘Ash Wednesday Blues’ (2001), ‘Bury the Hatchet’ w/ Big Chief Monk (2002), ‘Coming Down’ (2007), ‘American Patchwork’ (2010), ‘Black Eye Galaxy’ (2012), ‘Peace’ (2013), ‘Spacedust & Ocean Views’ (2016), ‘Flower Box’ (2016), ‘Buddha & The Blues’ (2019)

Background: Anders Osborne has written a #1 song (Tim McGraw’s ‘Watch the Wind Blow By’), contributed to Keb Mo’s 1999 Grammy Award Winning ‘Slow Down’, found time to release fourteen studio albums and three live albums that highlight his powerful New Orleans flavoured blues that he delivers both with a roof-rattling explosion of guitar and simple, measured acoustic strums, and yet has managed to be criminally underappreciated at the same time.

Osborne began his musical journey as nine-year-old when he started coming up with melodies on his family’s pump organ in his native Sweden.  He left home shortly after when he was sixteen, hitting the road, busking his way around the world before eventually settling in New Orleans.  His wanderlust got the best of him again, and at nineteen he quit his job because he had decided, “In order to make a good living making music, I had to stop my day gig, I was too tired to perform, or get the show, make the phone calls, run around, whatever.”  It was a step Osborne felt was him quitting society as he knew it, and figuring out how to make it relying solely on his music to get him through.

Since then Osborne has toured relentlessly, releasing deeply engaging albums that highlight his unique songwriting touch.  In addition to his songwriting and solo work, Osborne has toured and collaborated with a number of artists over the years including Phil Lesh, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Karl Denson, Luther Dickinson, and Galactic’s Stanton Moore among others that highlight the other, often overlooked side of Osborne, his blistering guitar work.

Osborne is a masterful songwriter.  In addition to authoring his contributions for Tim McGraw and Keb Mo, and having songs covered by everyone from Brad Paisley to Sam Bush to Jonny Lang to Edwin McCain and others, he has regularly collaborated with fellow New Orleans songwriters Tab Benoit, Billy Iuso, Johnny Sansone, and Mike Zito, as well as crafting a large stable of his own unique transcendent songs.  He has always had a special way with words, opening up his life like a book and letting all his life troubles come spilling out in song.  His open, unflinching, honesty, can lead to uncomfortable moments as he takes you on a personal journey with songs that range from self-reflective to a narrative journey.

For Osborne who is almost a compulsive songwriter, his process is a simple one.  He starts strumming guitar or playing a little piano around the house, often messing with different tunings as he goes.  Eventually something emerges.  Lyrically he finds a topic, often inspired by his early tumultuous life and begins crafting a tale from there.  He says it all eventually “goes into the pot” where he “starts to get a specific flavor” that he begins to work with.  “I don’t know where it is going to end up, but that is kind of the beautiful mystery of it.”

What He Does Live:

About Tim Newby 59 Articles
Author of books, writer of words, enjoyer of good times. Often found with a beer in hand and barefoot at a festival somewhere. Author of 'Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound & Its Legacy' (2015), 'Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival! (2019). New book 'Pete Browning: The Life & Troubled Times of a Forgotten Legend' due out in 2023. Follow him on twitter @Tim_Newby9 .
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Clint West

Great pick Tim. I saw him at the Cambridge Folk Festival in the early part of his career. Not sure that there’s been too many sightings of him in the UK since, so nice to be reminded.