Anders Osborne celebrated the holiday season at Tipitina’s last weekend with a pair sold-out of shows filled with special guests and top-notch musicianship. For the fourth annual “Anders Osborne Holiday Spectacular,” Osborne was joined by likeminded musical friends from the blues side of the jam-band community. Friday’s show featured John Popper, frontman of the hugely popular 90s group Blues Traveler, and fellow singer-songwriter J.J. Grey. Saturday’s show welcomed guitarist Jackie Greene and virtuosic mandolin player Sam Bush, as well as appearances by members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Osborne’s history in New Orleans is one marked by struggles and triumphs, from battling addiction to delivering blistering sets at Jazz Fest, and the holiday shows at Tipitina’s offer a chance for Osborne to surround himself with friends and play the hell out of his best songs for the city he loves. Foregoing the acoustic sets that opened last year’s holiday shows, Osborne’s band blasted off on Friday with “Old Country” before segueing nicely into the dual-guitar attack of “Back Together.” Friday night’s highlights included an extended take on “Burning on the Inside,” which saw some excellent interplay between keyboardist John Gros and guitarist John Fohl and a spot-on rendition of the reggae-tinged “Marmalade.”
Saturday was even more exciting, with the melodic guitar stylings of Jackie Greene and the mandolin of Sam Bush adding fresh textures to some of Anders’ classic songs. The band remembered Allen Toussaint with a spirited take on “Get Out My Life Woman” and satisfied all the Deadheads in the house with a cover of the classic “Scarlet Begonias.”
In a city with no shortage of traditions, Anders Osborne has established a new tradition devoted to life and love through the communal celebration of live music. With his distinctive guitar tone bouncing off the hallowed walls of Tipitina’s and a capacity crowd roaring in approval, it’s hard to say if the holiday shows are more of a present to the fans in the crowd or to the man onstage. In the end, the shows exemplified what the holidays are all about: the crowd and Anders gave a bit and they both received a whole lot.
Friday 12/18/15 Setlist
Set One: Old Country, Back Together, Back On Dumaine > Hook, Big Talk, Five Bullets, Every Minute, 99 Shades of Crazy
Set Two: Born To Die Together, Coming Down, Had My Reasons, Carolina Blues, Brighter Days, Marmalade, Burning on the Inside, Run Around, Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad
Encore: Mannish Boy
Saturday 12/19/15 Setlist
Set One: Echoes of My Sins, Back To Mississippi, Lafayette, Speak of the Devil, Aim Way High, Traveling Light, Light Up Your Window, Get Out of My Life Woman
Set Two: On the Road to Charlie Parker, Dyin’ Days > Down By the River, Gone Wanderin, Scarlet Begonias, Windows, I Got Da Same O’ Blues, Fools Gold, Time To Be A Hippie
Encore: On Your Way Down