Southern Soul Assembly

JJ Grey, Anders Osborne, Luther Dickinson and Marc Broussard

Live at NYC Winery – Nov.28, 2015


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Photos & Review by Eric Rayburn

Southerners are the best storytellers.

The art of telling a story is very ingrained in the culture of the South. Maybe it is the years we spent with less access to education that so much of our history was passed down orally or maybe it is simply the fact that it’s so much fun to sit on a porch with a drink and share tales with friends and family. But make no mistake, the members of The Southern Soul Assembly are four Southerners with stories to tell.

The Southern Soul Assembly is not an everyday band. Comprised of musicians who are very accomplished on their own – JJ Grey, Anders Osborne, Luther Dickinson and Marc Broussard- they represent three different Southern states, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. The band draws from the catalogues of each member to create a show that showcases each as an individual while showing the strength of collaboration.

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SSA performed recently at City Winery in New York City, the venue known for bringing big names to an intimate venue complete with fantastic wine and food. They played two shows on November 28, an early show and a later one that started at 10:30 p.m.. Both were full and in talking with those who attended both, the songs played were different at each one. This wasn’t a typical rock and roll show. The lighting, while very good, was static and it wasn’t until near the end of the show that any of the performers stood from their stools. Each member played guitar (although Dickinson spent a fair amount of time on bass and Grey broke out the harmonica for a couple of songs). Sometimes it was one guitar and one voice while the others watched, other songs had vocal harmonies and multiple rhythm parts. Imagine a warm, lazy river going this way and then that way, while the whole time you are completely comfortable to let the flow take you wherever it wanted to go. That was this show.

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Highlights included Broussard’s take on the Soloman Burke tune “Cry for Me”, Grey’s forceful and heartfelt vocals on his popular tune “Lochloosa” which felt like sitting on his porch with a glass of sweet tea and when Dickinson stood up to play his home-made coffee can guitar. The guitar, which consists of a can with a single lipstick pickup and two strings, features a neck with “Luther” carved into it. Dickinson played slide on that little guitar as he joined the others for the encore of Osborne’s “Sarah Anne”. Osborne really seemed to be enjoying his reggae-vibed tune, smiling and really getting after it on guitar.

Besides the encore, the only time the group truly played as one was during a fun take on Muddy Waters’ classic “I’m a Man” and a spirited rendition of Grey’s hit “Hide and Seek”. This is too bad because as stupendous as each of these guys are on their own, together they can be greater than each alone and become an unstoppable blues force.

These guys just give you a warm feeling inside when they sing and when you leave the venue, you feel as if you have just left from visiting your best relatives. See them soon before they go their separate ways.

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