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Published: 2014/11/11
by Rob Slater

Luther Dickinson and The Southern Soul Assembly Head West

The Southern Soul Assembly tour is exactly as advertised. Four of the South’s finest musicians—J.J. Grey (Jacksonville, FL), Luther Dickinson (Memphis, TN), Anders Osborne (New Orleans, LA) and Marc Broussard (Carencro, LA)—coming together for a unique blend of blues, soul, gospel and good old fashioned rock and roll.

As Luther Dickinson explains, the tour, which begins tonight in Sandpoint, ID, is just as rewarding for the musicians as it is for the fans. In a business that can unwillingly promote isolation, a chance to share the stage with your peers is not one to be passed up. The on-stage result is a unique, collaborative, anything-goes experience that is sure to satisfy audiences all around the country.

We caught up with Dickinson en route to the first stop on the tour. Check out all he had to say.

I know you guys did a brief run earlier this year, but how did this project come to life?

At the heart of it is JJ. He and I have been friends—we met so early on, so long ago on the circuit, it’s just been like minded. And then Anders and I have been working together for the last three or four years, as soon as we met it’s like our destinies just became so intertwined. But really I have to give the credit to JJ and his camp—it was their vision, they put something together everybody dreams of, you know, getting a singer-songwriterin the round situation. I just feel so fortunate that I could finally have done it. The simple answer is just that JJ called us up.

It’s certainly an interesting mix of characters. What do you dig about playing with and being around the other three guys (Anders Osborne, J.J. Grey and Marc Broussard)?

As many stories and jokes as we tell on stage, it’s even more hilarious and deeper on the bus just hanging out. It really feels like we’re all at the point where we are in our life and our career, you know we’re like fathers and maturing into other areas of our career. In this business, you work so isolated that it’s rare to get together with your peers and share experiences and give each other advice and just to hash it out, you know? To actually get a chance to do that is so, so much fun.

JJ is such an amazing person and you can feel that in his music, he just radiates positivity. I used to get an angrier feel from him but now it’s just sharing the positivity. Man, JJ is killing it Anders is so wise and Marc, what a God-given talent, man.

The thing that we all share is that our songs all have a regionality to them. We all like to write about our home land so there’s these different stories and traditions and legends and inside jokes that we’re each drawing from. But we still share that kind of love for our home but hopefully—everybody always asks me about the Southern aspect of it—I think the emphasis should be on the soul because even though we do like to write and sing about our homes, the songs can transcend that and it can just be soul music and maybe it’d be a lyric that touches you or a vocal, someone singing that moves you or a musical moment that turns you on to that.

What I mean by soul music is trying to make a moment, trying to create a moment that every one in the room can feel in one way or another. This is rare for us to play these beautiful theaters with these amazing audiences that are completely quiet and listening to every aspect, you can hear the musicality, the lyrics ring, they resonate in different ways and of course playing the guitar is a dream. Playing acoustic guitar to a theater full of people, that’s as good as it gets.

You mentioned being isolated sometimes in this business. I watched an interview with you four recently and it seemed like you all asked each other more questions than the interviewer did. Are you all relishing the opportunity to pick each other’s brains while on the road?

So much. We’re always picking each other’s brains and playing tunes for each other and that’s what’s so exciting about it. We’re not kids in vans anymore. We have to evolve our scope of what our idea of our careers are and all these artists have advice or a story. It’s really helpful to be able to brainstorm or just tell stories. It’s hilarious I mean, JJ gets fired up man. He’s so funny, it’s so much fun.

We’re energizing each other. There’s no right or wrong or point to the show. There is no punchline. But it just feels good to get together and be with each other.

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