In recent years, there has been a healthy trend of singer-songwriters joining forces and crossing the country as a collective unit. Groups including the L.A.-based Hotel Cafe Tour and Nashville-based Ten out of Tenn have given us nights of shared songs and stories in a relaxed concert setting.
Now in its third year of existence, Southern Soul Assembly brings us the bluesier and swampier side of this touring concept. Consisting of four established solo artists — J.J. Grey, Luther Dickinson, Marc Broussard and Anders Osborne — Southern Soul Assembly has made Birmingham a regular stop on its tours. The troupe will return to our city with a performance at the Lyric Theatre on Thursday, March 2. Recently, Weld caught up with Broussard as he prepared for the group’s current 25-day run of shows.
Weld: It’s hard to imagine that Southern Soul Assembly has been around for three years. If you will, talk about your time in the group.
Marc Broussard: It’s honestly been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my career to work with this group. I can almost liken it to high school choir — just being around singers and guys that have perspective on life that’s not your own but also not very dissimilar. You start to really appreciate those kinds of bonds — I cherish them. The experience has been eye-opening in so many ways to work with these guys.
Weld: Who or what was the catalyst for this collective?
Broussard: J.J. had the idea to start some sort of revue and reached out to a short list of guys he wanted to work with on the project. Luckily, I was called up to the plate and took the opportunity and really ran with it.
Weld: Given that all four of you have large song catalogs by this point, how do you comprise the setlists for these shows?
Broussard: I think sometimes there’s a chance for an audible, but generally we pull out a few songs on night one that we know are going [to fit]. I’ll be playing “Home” for sure, but I’m not even sure what the other guys will play. It’s kind of a crap shoot to be honest — we all have large bodies of work. I think some songs play better to this kind of a show than others. Certainly, there are plenty of mine that I’d rather not play at a Southern Soul Assembly show [Laughs].
Weld: Even though the other three performers are your friends and contemporaries, there must be a fan side of you that gets a kick out of this experience.
Broussard: I can’t even describe it. As a guy in the band, I get the chance on most nights to literally be onstage as a spectator watching a dude play a song that no one else has any business playing with him. I’m a massive fan of Anders Osborne and I was before I ever stepped foot on this tour. To get to share the stage with Anders every night and watch a master achieve at such an unbelievably high level is really inspiring and pushes me every time.
Southern Soul Assembly will perform at the Lyric Theatre on Thursday, March 2. For more information, visit lyricbham.com.