Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Kirsten Ferguson
The calendar hadn’t flipped to June yet, and the Solstice was still weeks away. Nevertheless, the tank tops, jogging shorts and Hawaiian shirts that dotted the nighttime landscape made one thing clear: Summer’s here, and the time is right for drinking in the street… or, at least, in the open-air bars across from me as I made my way up Putnam Street. But rather than drawing me in, the cover bands assaulting the night with mediocre takes on “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Burning for You” just made me walk faster, because my mission involved real, original music from one of New Orleans’ classic musical mongrels!
Anders Osborne may have been born in Uddevalla, Sweden, but he may as well have been born in the Crescent City. He’s a regular at JazzFest, which may be where most of the packed house at Putnam’s Den saw him for the first time. Then again, that first time could have happened anywhere, since Osborne’s been your basic road dog since his first record came out in 1989. And he hasn’t slowed down, either: Aside from touring his own music, he’s part of the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars, and he’s one of the raft of NOLA legends who appear on Galactic’s eclectic mash-up disc Ya-Ka-May. If you didn’t know what Osborne looked like, he could have passed for one of the customers as he walked into Putnam’s in black-t-shirt and jeans.
Mind you, it wasn’t the grey in his now-relatively-trimmed beard that betrayed how many miles Osborne has on his odometer. After tuning up, Osborne sheepishly announced that he’d left his reading glasses back at the hotel, and without them, he couldn’t read the lyrics on the iPad taped to the music stand in front of his chair. If an audience member hadn’t lent Osborne his reading glasses, we might still be staring at each other. Instead, Osborne dove into the blues of “I’ve Been Away Too Long,” and the show was on the road.