Dig Baton Rouge

Review: Southern Soul Assembly Tour

By William McCray Sutherlin

Around 8 pm Friday, downtown Baton Rouge was thriving.  All the bars seemed to be packed, and the streets were filled with young folk frolicking about.

However, one particular event seemed to steal the spotlight.  Anders Osborne, Luther Dickinson, Marc Broussard, and JJ Grey were taking their seats on the dim-lit stage of the Manship Theatre.

As the last few patrons flocked into the theatre, the sepia tone spotlight grew dimmer, and the room transformed into a dark, intimate atmosphere. Osborne began to strum, and feet began to tap.  As Broussard began to sing, Grey stepped in, briskly backing him on the harmonica.

The short tune led into Grey singing “Only This River” with the other three guitarists harmonizing behind him.

Next came the bone-chilling lyricism of Osborne.

“I’ve been looking for the cold truth,” he sang as Dickinson began to solo on the electric acoustic guitar, beautifully laying scales over Osborne’s chorus.

The crowd began to cheer as the song came to an end.

Dickinson, a natural story-teller, began to talk about the unpleasant experience that is waking up in the morning. The crowd appreciated what he was preaching and laughed in concurrence with his story.

“Man, I wish I had some moroccos or something,” Dickinson remarked.

“Let me see if I can help you out,” Osborne joked as he pulled out a tambourine from behind his amplifier and started slapping along with the rhythm.

At this point, the three-story Manship Theatre was filled with a captive audience who seemed to hang on every note and every lyric.

Grey told a story about his father as an intro to the song “She’s On Fire.”  Once the story was over, Grey whipped out the harmonica, and began dual wielding it with his acoustic guitar.

Upon the song’s closing, Osborne and Dickinson threw their ball caps into the audience and Osborne began to play a fan favorite, “Summer Time in New Orleans” as Dickinson plucked away on the mandolin.

The crowd swayed and sang along until the very last note was played.  Afterwards, they rose out of their seats and gave a standing ovation, showing their appreciation for the beautiful performance.

The four singer-songwriters then left the stage, waving to the crowd. However, the audience maintained a steady standing ovation, demanding their return.

Some 45 seconds later, Anders, Dickinson, Broussard, and Grey walked back onto stage.  Osborne picked up a worn out acoustic and began to play his beautifully written ballad of drug addiction, “Mind of a Junkie,” as an encore.

As if his goosebump-inducing lyrics weren’t enough, Dickinson followed along, laying down a blissfully unique slide solo on the acoustic guitar.

Afterwards the crowd grew quite as Broussard rose from his seat, and walked towards the front of the stage for the a cappella finale.

“Tomorrow may never come,” he sang, “for we will never know.”

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