Born: 1966 in Uddevalla, Sweden
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Anders Osborne has become an artist to be reckoned with in the second decade of the 21st century. A roots-oriented musician whose sound is an inspired blend of blues, rock, soul, and R&B, Osborne's songwriting technique is heavily influenced by the folk-rock style of the early-to-mid-1970s troubadours while his searing slide-guitar playing is reminiscent of the great Hound Dog Taylor.
While Osborne has received little love from The Blues Foundation – receiving not a single Blues Music Award nomination in over two decades and nearly a dozen albums – his songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Brad Paisley, Jonny Lang, and Kim Carnes, and he's built a loyal fan base the old-fashioned way, one electrifying performance after another. Osborne began branching out into production as well during the early 2010s, working on albums by fellow bluesmen like Johnny Sansone and Mike Zito.
Finding A Home In New Orleans
Born in Uddevalla, Sweden in 1966, Osborne became enamored of music at an early age. His father was a jazz drummer that toured Europe with his combo during the early 1960s, and the younger Osborne began banging out melodies on the family's pump organ at the age of nine. At the age of sixteen, Osborne left home and hit the road with his guitar, relying on his musical talents to scrape by as he roamed throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia soaking up the culture and witnessing the world on his own terms.
In 1985, Osborne landed in New York with five dollars in his pocket, and decided to hitchhike to New Orleans to hook up with a friend. Upon arriving in the Crescent City, however, he knew that he'd found a new home. "Once I got to New Orleans, everything I heard in my head – the music, the way people treated each other – was happening. I knew I was home," he says in his label bio. Shortly after becoming a resident of the Big Easy, Osborne also decided to quit his day job and work full-time on his music.
The Shanachie Records Years
Osborne spent his first ten years in New Orleans living in the notorious French Quarter and honing his skills while soaking up the city's sound and flavor. Playing steadily around town brought Osborne to the attention of the independent local label Rabadash Records, which signed the young guitarist and released two albums – 1989's Doin' Fine and 1993's Break The Chain. The buzz created by those two records led to Osborne's signing with Sony to record for the newly-revived Okeh Records label. The resulting album, Which Way To Here, was a fine collection of roots 'n' blues music with folkish lyricism that yielded a pair of minor hits in "Favorite Son" and "Pleasin' You," both of which were subsequently picked up and used on film soundtracks.
Osborne found himself on the street again when Sony shut down Okeh Records, and the guitarist signed with the indie Shanachie Records, a renowned reggae and world music label. Shanachie released the scorching Live At Tipitina's collection in 1998, following it up with the critically-acclaimed Living Room a year later. Featuring a guest appearance from then up-and-coming bluesman Keb' Mo', Living Room represented a major step forward for Osborne as a songwriter and musician. Osborne returned the favor by playing on and co-writing two songs with Mo' for his 1999 Slow Down album, which earned the bluesman his second Grammy® Award.
Trial & Redemption
Shanachie released two more albums by Osborne during the early 2000s – Ash Wednesday Blues in 2001 and the following year's Bury The Hatchet, recorded with New Orleans legend Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of the Wild Magnolias. By this time, the grueling trials of life on the road had begun taking a toll on Osborne, who was suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. In 2003, Osborne scored a hit on the country charts, singer Tim McGraw taking the Osborne co-write "Watch The Wind Blow By" to number one. The guitarist's Osborne Orchestra was reissued in 2006 by Rabadash, the album originally recorded in 1990 on the Swedish island of Gotland with singer Theresa Andersson. Osborne released the introspective Coming Down in 2007 on the M.C. Records label.
Cleaned up and revitalized by his new sobriety, Osborne signed with noted blues outfit Alligator Records in 2009, the label releasing his acclaimed American Patchwork album in 2010 followed by the explosive blues-rock collection Black Eye Galaxy in 2012. Both albums perfectly balanced Osborne's songwriting skills with his instrumental prowess, both dealing lyrically with addiction, heartbreak, recovery, and the redemptive power of romance. Osborne has since gone on to make his mark as a producer, working with fellow New Orleans favorite son Tab Benoit on his Blues Music Award winning Medicine album. Taking a break from touring, Osborne recorded the semi-acoustic, six-song EP Three Free Amigos, released in early 2013.
Recommended Albums: Two of Osborne's Shanachie releases have withstood the test of time, Living Room and Ash Wednesday Blues both displaying the artist's immense talents in the proper light. But it is his late 2000s albums for Alligator Records that truly stand out, American Patchwork and Black Eye Galaxy revealing different facets of Osborne's muse and taking his career to the next level.
Anders Osborne Select Discography
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- Doin' Fine (Rabadash Records, 1989)
- Break The Chain (Rabadash Records, 1993)
- Which Way To Here (Sony/Okeh Records, 1995)
- Live At Tipitina's (Shanachie Records, 1998)
- Living Room (Shanachie Records, 1999)
- Ash Wednesday Blues (Shanachie Records, 2001)
- Bury The Hatchet (Shanachie Records, 2002)
- Osborne Orchestra (Rabadash Records, 2006)
- Coming Down (M.C. Records, 2007)
- American Patchwork (Alligator Records, 2010)
- Black Eye Galaxy (Alligator Records, 2012)
- Three Free Amigos (Alligator Records, 2013)