ANDERS OSBORNE AND NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS JOIN FORCES FOR SOME HIGH-VOLTAGE BLUES-ROCK

As one of the hardest-working musicians 
 on the planet, Sweden-born Osborne 
 has collaborated with a riverboat-load of artists. He’s worked with Galactic founding member Stanton Moore and slide master Sonny Landreth. Osborne has toured with the forever-jammy Phil Lesh and written hit songs for the decidedly un-jammy Tim McGraw. He has a side project with Jacksonville’s swamp cracker-crooner JJ Grey, and at a holiday show in December, Gulf-and-Western balladeer Jimmy Buffett joined Osborne onstage for a few acoustic tunes. Needless to say, Osborne’s range is far-reaching. “I learn something from everybody I work with,” he says in a phone call from his adopted hometown New Orleans, during a brief respite from touring. “I think I can have a musical conversation with just about anyone, but if there was someone I didn’t click with, I probably wouldn’t say so.”

Aside from collaborations, Osborne has 
amassed an expansive solo catalog. For nearly three decades, the now-48-year-old has been writing songs that are always adventurous and always honest, sometimes brutally so. Whether crooning soulfully on stripped-down albums, like 2007’s Coming Down, or spitting fire over cannon-shot blues, like on 2012’s Black Eye Galaxy, Osborne’s vocals are always on target. His latest album, 2013’s Peace — raucous, sprawling, mostly up-tempo blues — earned rave reviews from critics. In early January, when he entered the studio to record a follow-up, Osborne brought a staggering 80 songs. He’s known to be prolific, but Osborne admits this output isn’t typical. “Each record has its own process,” he says. “I wrote a tremendous amount of songs for this album, so we immediately scrapped about 50 of them. Then we went to work on the best 30 and cut it down to the best 10 or 12.” The album, Spacedust and Ocean Views, 
is being produced by Mark Howard (Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind), and Osborne says those dozen or so songs all have a “meditative” quality. “It’s got more of a laid-back vibe to it than the last record.”

Given his noted flexibility, Osborne’s latest collaboration — a co-headlining tour with the blues and roots ambassadors The North Mississippi Allstars (N.M.A.) — won’t require him to stretch too much. Indeed, N.M.A.’s latest album, 2013’s World Boogie is Coming, shares a good deal of DNA with Osborne’s Peace; singer-guitarist Luther Dickinson has proved himself just as musically pliable over the years. Osborne says that after years of talking about it with Dickinson, a longtime friend and sometime bandmate, the two finally found some time to dedicate to putting a project together. Osborne says he always loves to play with N.M.A. “They have a wonderful sense of playfulness on stage, but also a vast knowledge of their musical heritage.”

Jim Dickinson, father to Luther and N.M.A. drummer Cody Dickinson, played piano with Dylan and The Rolling Stones, among others, and the boys grew up surrounded by icons of North Mississippi blues like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. The Dickinsons formed The North Mississippi Allstars in 1996 and built a reputation for raucous, down-home roots and blues music. Over the years, N.M.A.’s brand of blues has nabbed them three Grammy nods.

The Dickinson brothers have a laundry list of co-conspirators. Luther Dickinson has toured with Black Crowes, and recently joined up with a group of Southern balladeers calling themselves the Southern Soul Assembly. The group, comprising Dickinson, Mark Broussard, JJ Grey and Osborne, played a short tour together. Osborne says the four of them will try 
to get in the studio together this year. The group started a few tunes on tour. “Writing is pretty easy when we get together,” Osborne says. “We’ll probably take a week in the studio and write all the songs then. I think it’ll be pretty seamless.”

Meanwhile, Osborne and The North Mississippi Allstars are hitting the road together for a U.S. tour of 25 stops, kicking it off at Ponte Vedra Concert Hall. “The tour has been on the table for a long time. The timing was just right,” Osborne says. The artists are calling this particular project North Mississippi Osborne, or N.M.O. Osborne says they’ll trade sets. “We’ll be playing sets of my stuff, their stuff, and then some things that we’ve written together.”

And though he’s been advised to be tight-lipped on the details, he hints that N.M.O. will be releasing some music together in the near future. “We’ll be mixing it up quite a bit,” Osborne says about the project. “We’ll do some raw blues stuff, some traditional New Orleans music, early ’70s funky stuff. We’re just going to mix it up, organically.” But, as is the case for each of his seemingly infinite musical ventures, Osborne isn’t likely to grow too attached. “I’m not trying to change the world with this stuff,” he says. “I’m always just trying to work really hard to make a good record.”

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