Anders Osborne’s early inspiration was Vivaldi and Mozart
July 20, 2011
Music touched blues guitarist/vocalist Anders Osborne when he was in grade school.
He was drawn to the layered compositions of Mozart and Vivaldi.
"Those were the first pieces of music that I was emotionally reacting to," Osborne said during a phone call from Sioux Falls, S.D. "Gradually, they merged with some of the rural blues like Robert Johnson’s early recordings, and then Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘Harvest.’"
Once Osborne, who calls New Orleans, La., home, discovered Young, the door opened to Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Brown.
"Then I would listen to Miles Davis, Art Pepper and John Coltrane side-by-side, with the singers and songwriters," he said. "Eventually I found Ry Cooder and country-blues like Little Feat and whatnot."
Osborne will bring his New Orleans blues to Canyons Resort on Saturday, June 23.
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The guitarist was eight years old when he started experimenting with music.
"Since I was into composers like Mozart and Vivaldi, I would write these melodies on a pump organ and would sing the melodies on top of the chords I would play on the guitar," he said. "That’s how it started, and I stuck with guitar when I grew up, because when you’re ready to leave home and travel, it’s easier to carry a guitar than a pump organ."
At 20, Osborne came to a crossroad.
"I was working north of New Orleans at a horse farm and washing dishes at a restaurant at the same time I was trying to book my gigs," he said. "At that point I realized I had to quit my day jobs and sit all day booking my night gigs, as well as sit and write music all day to make everything work."
That wasn’t the only crossroad that Osborne has navigated throughout his 20-year career.
"I’ve had to learn to trust my gut instinct, but also recognize what that instinct was and is," he said. "You get to these decisions where you ask yourself if it’s good to stay loyal to clubs you’ve played at a lot or move on. Also, do you stay loyal to a band or a promoter? All those decisions are crossroads you constantly run into throughout your career."
One of the most important choices Osborne had to make not only saved his career, but possibly his life.
"I had a big decision to make regarding my drinking and drug use," he said. "When that stuff started to present themselves in my career, they became big issues. I found I would resort to do those things instead of improving my craft.
"I’ve been doing well with it for a few years, now, but it was a mountain I had to get over."
Since his 1989 debut, "Doin’ Fine," Osborne has appeared on albums by acoustic bluesman Keb’ Mo,’ and has his songs recorded by Brad Paisley, Tab Benoit, Jonny Lang and Kim Carnes. Back in 1999, country superstar Tim McGraw took Osborne’s song "Watch the Wind Blow " up to No. 1 on the country charts.
"When people decide to record my songs, not just established artists, but any artist, it’s always flattering," he said.
Osborne released his Alligator Records debut, "American Patchwork," last year, and is grateful to the company for the support.
"It feels right and good and flattering to have a company that’s been around 40 years to take a little leap of faith on me," he said.
Stanton Moore and Pepper Keenan, who have produced music for Galactic and System of a Down, respectively, produced the CD.
"Stanton challenged me on how heavy the guitar should sound on the CD," Osborne said. "It was inspirational, because he kept referring to my live shows. He told me the record needed to be fatter, bigger and more distorted.
"I play a 1968 Stratocaster that has a custom maple neck with an African ebony fret board," he said. "I have a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails middle pick up that can boost lower and mid-range, so we used that to its fullest."
Keenan helped Osborne with his vocal delivery.
"Coached me to adjust the tail lines of the verses and helped loosen things that were a little stiff," he said.
Osborne said his next goal is to focus on his live shows.
"I’d like to tour a little harder," he said. "It’s been hard before with my habits to stay out there, but since I got sober, it’s been inspiring to be out here, creating more live music."
Canyons Concert Series will present Bluesman Anders Osborne at the resort, 4000 Canyons Resort Dr., on Saturday, July 23. Music begins at 6 p.m. Admission is free.