By Quentin Young
Southern Soul Assembly performs in concert venues, but they’re not really a band and they don’t really put on concerts. It’s better than that. They’re four guys who love to jam together — and they let people watch when they do.
Also, they just happen to be world-class talents.
JJ Grey, Marc Broussard, Anders Osborne and Luther Dickinson — the Assembly — each has achieved star status with other bands or as solo artists. In the Southern Soul Assembly, they perform in an artist-in-the-round format. They eschew niceties like a rehearsal and just hit the stage to have fun.
“For me it feels like the four of us are just sitting around on a porch,” Grey said during a recent phone interview. “The audience is just people sitting around the porch with us.”
The Assembly plans to bring the porch vibe to the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Friday and Boulder Theater in Boulder on Saturday.
Grey is a powerhouse singer whom fans know from JJ Grey & Mofro. Broussard is also a singer with spine-tingling abilities. Osborne is a singer and guitarist, as is Dickinson, who is known for his work with the North Mississippi Allstars and The Black Crowes. They’re all skilled songwriters, and they all have the South in their blood.
Grey describes his Assembly-mates as “master singers and players and writers,” adding, “they’re master listeners, too.”
The listening part is essential, given the loose approach the ensemble takes to performing. They take turns playing different songs, and no one knows what’s going to come next — show to show, song to song.
“Some of the stuff that looks like we sat down and said, ‘What should we do, should we try this?’ — none of it happened that way,” Grey said. “Each night something new might pop up.”
Southern Soul Assembly is a supergroup, but ego is never an issue, Grey said. In fact, he describes it as an environment of mutual admiration where each member is pushed to be better in the others’ company. Osborne’s way with a lyric, for example, is especially inspiring for Grey.
“Anders has this laser-beam quality with each word,” he said. “All that kind of stuff has rubbed off on me.”
Grey is finishing up a new album, and he expects the Assembly’s influence will be wrapped into the recordings.
“They inspired me so much when I went and did the record,” he said.
The Colorado shows are the last of the Assembly’s month-long outing, and Grey, who’s from Florida, said he always looks forward to playing the state.
“Colorado is one of our best places,” he said, adding that among touring musicians he knows the state is a necessary stop. Part of the attraction is the quality of local crowds, which Grey described as “professional listeners.”
They may be in Colorado, but the Assembly brings the South with them. As Broussard said in a band press release: “Just like food in the South, our music is greasier than most … The beat is on the backside, generally, because it gets too hot for people to move too quickly.”
If you go
What: Southern Soul Assembly
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22
Where: Friday, Ogden Theatre, 935 E. Colfax Ave., Denver; Saturday, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder
Tickets: $26.75-$30 Friday; $28-$34.50 Saturday