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Monday, September 19, 2011

Interview with Marc Broussard: "Cajun Soul Singer"

“Chet, you ol’ dog!” exclaimed singer Marc Broussard over the telephone. With such down-home exuberance evident right off we could have been talking about Broussard’s favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints. “I’m fired up about coming back to Grand Rapids--I can’t lie,” continued Broussard. To hear this sincerity it’s easy to understand why he has remained as one of the top vocalists going. Broussard’s music ripples with powerful currents of R&B, gospel, and swamp pop. His soul-laden original songs have always been quality crafted and delivered with emotional depth. Not bad for starters. Marc Broussard hails from the tradition rich, potent soil of Louisiana; so far has lived up to the southern soul singer heritage part. But when it comes to musical tradition down there, he says he comes by it honestly courtesy of the nearby Cajun community up by his hometown of Carencro. “I would say that some of these local boys, like Belton Richard and the Cajun and zydeco musicians, were always fun to listen to,” said Broussard from a recent tour stop in Columbia MO. “I’m still being influenced by Cajun and zydeco music,” continued Broussard. “Roddie Romero is an excellent musician and a good friend of mine. I’m a huge fan of Roddie’s stuff, no doubt about it. He started out playing accordion but he has turned into, truly, one hell of a slide guitar player. We’re going to do some writing together for my next record.” Broussard also readily acknowledges the influence of noted songwriter and fellow Louisianan Bobby Charles of “See You Later Alligator” fame, which was later immortalized by Bill Haley & the Comets. “Bobby’s a great, great songwriter,” said Broussard. "He wrote some fantastic songs for Fats Domino (“Walking to New Orleans”) and Bob Dylan.” Broussard appears in Grand Rapids at the Intersection on Sept 19 in support of his newest release simply titled Marc Broussard (Atlantic). The effort was produced and co-written by Nashville’s Jamie Kenney, who also contributed piano parts to the project. “Jamie was hugely instrumental in bringing about these arrangements,” said Broussard. “As a co-writer it’s rare to have such a connection from the get-go. We got along as musicians and as people. He’s supremely talented and a joy to work with.” For all the pop sheen applied to the Broussard release, the song “Eye on the Prize” is the most representative of Broussard’s “bayou soul” origins. “Prize” starts out swampy, murky, with a slash of slide guitar as you might expect and just keeps going. “We’re doing that one on tour now but doing it a little differently than the record version—a little more dynamic,” said Broussard. “I think it’s one of the shining moments on the album. I wish we would have had more time with “Eye on the Prize” before calling it quits on the recording. The original version of that song is vastly different than what we recorded. It started out really smooth and pop sounding. Imagine taking a Steely Dan song and totally swamping it out,” said Broussard with a chuckle. The Marc Broussard band coming to town will feature noted Memphis Hammond B-3 player Al Gamble on keys. In addition to a busy touring schedule, Broussard is known for his philanthropic work with post-Katrina New Orleans. “There was obviously a huge outpouring of support from all over this country and all over the world which allowed New Orleans to reclaim itself from shortly after the storm,” said Broussard. “Out of that tragedy it brought about some sort of reformation in that city. Obviously the New Orleans Saints football team winning a Super Bowl championship after the storm was a big part. Drew Brees (Saints quarterback) and those guys have been huge motivational factors for people who were skeptical about moving to the city. It’s funny how a football team can give a shot in the arm to a city like that but they sure as hell did. The city, I think, still has all of its charm and all of its culture but it’s got a little more pep in its step these days. I’m excited about being there.”

Marc Broussard wsg Chic Gamine & Scars on 45 at the Intersection Sept 19. More information at Marc Broussard's web page.

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