Marc Broussard brings his brand of soul to Aspen
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – It’s around lunchtime on Tuesday in the South Louisiana town of Carencro, and singer-musician-songwriter Marc Broussard gives the impression that there are things he’d rather be doing than talking about himself to a reporter some 1,230 driving miles away.
It is, after all, springtime on the bayou, and that means crawfish.
“I’m fixin’ to go get me some,” he says.
But readers in Aspen are not overly concerned with the culinary habits of your average Cajun, and so he spoke a little about his career and his influences and what patrons of the 7908 Songwriters Festival at the Wheeler Opera House on Saturday night can expect from his show.
Broussard, for the uninitiated, is a mere 30 years old but has been around the musical block for many years. His father, Ted Broussard, was an acclaimed guitarist with a popular band called The Boogie Kings and a member of the Louisiana Hall of Fame. The younger Broussard, whose sound might be best described as a blend of swampy soul, pop and rock, released his first CD 10 years ago.
Twice, in 2004 and 2005, he charted on the U.S. Adult Top 40 with songs off the 2004 album “Carencro,” a CD that pays tribute to the place where he still lives today, with his wife and four kids. He has a steady and loyal following, and spends six months a year touring in support of his craft. He’s held in high esteem by his peers, recording with the likes of Sam Bush, LeAnn Rimes, Ben Harper and Troy Andrews, aka “Trombone Shorty.”
Some critics have observed that Broussard seems to be a musician in search of a style. It didn’t help that his time as an Atlantic Records recording artist from 2008 to 2011 didn’t serve him so well; the bare-bones production on the album “Keep Coming Back” was heavily faulted, as was the uninspired writing; then came “Marc Broussard,” which featured some good songs masked by heavy production.
But a search on the website You Tube reveals his strengths as a performer. A stripped-down and live version of the song “Lucky,” from the self-titled album released last summer, is testament to his power as a singer-performer and his emotion and skill as a songwriter.
Broussard said he plans to go for the full-band sound at the Wheeler show. He said it will likely include a mix of cover material and originals, with emphasis on the latter.
“Sometimes songs just come to me,” he said. “The other morning I had melody and a lyric that came to me before I even opened my eyes. I was reaching for my phone to record the idea.
“Other times, it’s something that comes after I sit down and play my guitar for awhile. I recently was given a 1968 Gibson ES-335 (a classic vintage electric guitar) from my father. It’s the guitar that his dad bought for him. That guitar has been gifting me songs left and right.”
Broussard, who recently split with Atlantic, said he’s in the process of gathering new material, perhaps for a CD. “I’ve been writing songs with some of the guys I was on tour with. I’ve been writing on my own a bunch. I’m heading out to L.A. right as soon as I leave Aspen to do some writing with a friend of mine named Jim McGorman. I’m anxious to get a new CD out as soon as possible.” (McGorman, a Philadelphia musician best known for his work in TV, contributed organ and background vocals on Broussard’s “Carencro” album.)
Coming from a state that’s somewhat obsessed with its musical heritage, Broussard describes other influences. He joked that his music is “5 percent Louisiana.” He says his tastes are continually changing, and mentions rock bands that have been a factor in his most recent evolution.
“I’m pulling from different references, finding more contemporary stuff that’s obscure enough to still be kind of on the fringes, yet really cool and vibey and full of emotion and full of life, bands like The Veils and a fellow that calls himself Pink. Just some things that I’ve stumbled on because they’re out there, on TV or movies, and I hold my iPhone up and I have this app, and all of a sudden it pops up the artist and I go dig into the catalog.”
His initial influences, back in the 1990s, were black male soul singers. “I think that’s still true, I always seek out the soulful side of things. It was folks like Donnie Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Brian McKnight, Bobby Womack and all the guys I’ve covered in the past,” he said. “I’ve never been into guitar players as much as I am with singers. I never really focused on my craft as a guitar player. I always gravitated toward those voices that just stand out.”
Louisiana music has always been a part of his sound, but only inherently. He said it was just recently that he started digging into the catalogs of legendary acts like Bobby Charles, The Meters, The Neville Brothers and some of the Zydeco artists from the bayou prairie west of Carencro.
Broussard says his departure from Atlantic was largely amicable. “There’s really no issues with anybody or the label in general. I think the major labels are kind of grasping at straws about what to do with a guy like me,” he said, adding, “I’m really happy with the way things are going now.”
He said the Atlantic company executives who signed him in 2008 had been connected to Island Records, the label on which “Carencro” was released in 2004. “They had been big fans of me for a long, long time, and when I became a free agent, they threw me a deal that I couldn’t refuse. In hindsight, I wish that I could have refused it, because it didn’t pan out to be the best place for me.”
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