Anders Osborne Makes His Fourth Blues & Brews Appearance
“Anders Osborne is by far one of my favorite musicians out there,” remarks Telluride Blues & Brews Festival founder Steve Gumble. That bold statement is not a foreign sentiment for patrons and performers at the annual music event that is celebrating its 19th anniversary this year. At last year’s Blues & Brews, a culmination of Osborne’s unending push to restore rock and roll manifested when jam-band royal Al Shnier of moe. joined him onstage. The two guitar greats fed off each other in a way that even they might not have expected, and one of the highlights of the weekend came from that impromptu sit-in. In fact, it went off so well that Osborne repaid the favor in true New Orleans fashion, and sat in with the moe. guys during their set for an unforgettable guitar duel. Whether they were further intrigued or simply not satiated, fans would pack the Sheridan Opera House later that night for an overdose of Osborne’s penetrating guitarmanship.
This year, Osborne is set not only to play a festival set and a late-night showcase, but he will also close out the weekend with an all-star jam party that includes Roosevelt Collier of the Lee Boys and blues guitarist Tab Benoit. How is it that the same musician can show so much love for Telluride, and in return find an unending reciprocation from fans? As Gumble described it, “Anders consistently blows me away every time I see him. He is to Blues & Brews what Sam Bush is to Bluegrass in that he is welcome to come back and play every year.”
Osborne has been on tour all summer honing his skills for a landmark return to Telluride. We managed to catch him to discuss the return of the king of Blues & Brews.
Watch: As a repeat offender of The Blues & Brews Festival, what would you say is the single most outstanding aspect of playing music here?
Osborne: It seems to me that there is a living in the moment attitude in Telluride. In that way it is quite similar to New Orleans. When people are at the gig they are really engaged. They are there to be there, and they have no other plans to go somewhere else. That may be from being so isolated, but there is something to it. I say this from the heart, it is pleasant and friendly, and it is one of the best festivals that I play. I really love it.
Watch: Last year you had the chance to sit in with moe. during their Blues & Brews set. Al from moe. also sat in for your set. He later talked about how that weekend was special to him and the band because of the connection he made with you there. Tell me about that experience for you.
Osborne: Well, it was wonderful! I had not met those guys before. We ran into each other at the airport and started talking on our ride into Telluride. We ended up connecting on stage the next day. I love stuff like that, a situation where I know of them, and we have careers running parallel to each other, so it’s always one of those truly exciting moments when you experience playing with such fantastic players. I was flattered to be invited.
Watch: Has that relationship with the guys in moe. grown since last year?
Osborne: Yeah, I was actually invited to play at their festival earlier this summer. Other than that, let’s just say I have plans to call Al for a little thing in New Orleans I got going on for later in the year.
Watch: What is the meaning of Black Eye Galaxy in the cosmic sense?
Osborne: I had a dream last summer, and when I woke up the number 64 was lingering. Now, I am into numerology and cosmic studies, so I looked it up and there were a lot of really interesting things linked to that number, like the Kama Sutra has 64 positions, the Chinese alphabet is 64 letters, a chessboard has 64 squares. Beyond that, the one thing that stood out was the peculiarities of a black eye galaxy, which is designed Messier 64. It is actually two galaxies colliding that have merged into one, and they are rotating in two different directions, one clockwise and one counterclockwise. They are the perfect yin and yang. A perfect place for all of us.
Watch: That seems to fit the vibe of the album. I wouldn’t say it is up and down, but more of a constant gravitational pull to the poles of heavier rock and strong lyrical ballads. Did you have that concept in mind before recording, or did the stars align for it to turn out that way?
Osborne: It really just formed that way. in the end I did lay it out as two sides, having an A-side and a B-side. I wanted the record to play a certain way up to a point, and then have it function like an old LP where the listener turns it around and finds a more uplifting, mellow vibe on the back.
Watch: I know you have been busy touring, but are you working on any new material, and if so, what sonic directions do you find it gravitating towards?
Osborne: Yeah, when I am on the road I start making sketches of songs on my iPhone via a memo app. I will sing small pieces into there or strum my guitar, sometimes capturing these floating lyrical pieces or parts to a song. I have plans to go into the studio with what I have been working on at the end of January to see if we can come up with another nice little piece.
Watch: As you know, Phil Lesh shares a spot on this year’s festival line up. I have personally witnessed you tear down some Grateful Dead tunes with the likes of George Porter Jr. and Stanton Moore. Was the Dead a big part of your musical influence growing up?
Osborne: I was actually introduced to that a little bit later. I spent some time in California in the 80s and I got hip to The Grateful Dead. I have to give credit to my friend Bill Iuso or revitalizing the appeal of that sound for me lately. He is a huge Grateful Dead fan, and him and I have been jamming their tunes out. We even go into their back catalogue and find some really beautiful songs to play. I also have a friend named Shaggy Davis that sends me live tapes of The Dead all the time (laughs).
Watch: Is there any chance you will get a chance to share the stage with Phil?
Osborne: There may or may not be some talk about it, so you will have to see how it goes. It would be an honor if that did end up happening.
Watch: You’re scheduled for not one, but two late night shows at the Sheridan Opera House. That may be a first for Blues & Brews. For the second night you will be joined by Roosevelt Collier on stage. Have you two ever played together in that format?
Osborne: I have not! The fact that we have not played together like this before makes this super exciting for me. Roosevelt is a truly phenomenal pedal steel guitar player, so I expect only wonderful things to happen that night.
Tyler Grant Friday at Fly Me to the Moon Saloon
With national flatpicking champion titles, and playing in the famed Emmitt-Nershi Band, guitarist Tyler Grant arrived at a place in his career where he could start doing his own thing. So he did what any aspiring young musician in the Front Range would do – he started his own band. The result is an assembled team of eclectic artists that include former Leftover Salmon drummer Chris Misner, funky phenom Adrian Engfer on bass, and Sean Foley holding it down on keys duty. The foursome took their clean slate and drove it right into the heart of a diverse assortment of roots music when recording their self-titled debut. The resulting 11 tracks are an odd procession through modern Americana, twangy bluegrass and smooth lounge rock.
In the live setting, the band draws on the tutelage they received touring with members of The String Cheese Incident and The Drew Emmitt band to form a tight, jam-out driven approach to playing. Set to kick off the weekend on Friday with their first-ever Telluride show at Fly Me to the Moon, sing-along ballads, roadhouse guitar soloing and highly danceable drum solos are to be expected. Combine that dose of music goodness with original tunes that are being road tested alongside a catalog of covers, and Grant Farm aims to win a spot on the local favorites list.