Broussard at Harpers Ferry
By Valerie Cwiekowski
Harpers Ferry is the consummate launching pad for artists touring through
Boston, trying to burst onto the national scene. Maroon 5, Gavin DeGraw, Vertical
Horizon, and the Pat McGee Band are just a few of the bands to call Harpers
Ferry home before moving on to national acclaim. You can now add Marc Broussard
to the ever-growing list.
Headlining the Boston NEMO Festival on the final night of the conference, Broussard's southern comfort style and a three part harmony bursting with flavor and range warmed up the crowd to a talent poised to be the industry's next "it" kid.
The opening tune, "Rocksteady" is a quirky, upbeat tune that had the audience just that - rocking - right along with Broussard and his band. Not only can the twenty-two year old play guitar and sing every note in the scale, but he can deliver one-liners like Jay Leno only wishes he could.
"I hope you enjoy what you hear. If not - fuck you," Broussard told a laughing crowd before launching into the second song of his set, "Come Around." The song is chock-full of the New Orleans soul swagger that Broussard credits as a major influence in his music. The audience was treated to an in furious, up beat jam with Broussard and bass guitarist Gibb Droll, where Droll strutted towards the center of the stage playing the bass with his teeth.
Broussard's influences are too many to list; the pop-jazz mantra that road warrior John Mayer has brought to the twenty-something crowd is the easy choice, but Broussard's voice is soulful and deep when it needs to be, nailing the high octane notes when the song calls for it. "Beauty For Who You Are" is a gorgeous, stunning tune that shows all of Broussard's range, and there's not a note on the scale Broussard can't hit. His vocals fluctuate in intensity throughout; the southern boy crooner certainly had the audience's attention and respect by the end of the tune as his voice traveled the full range of the scale and back again by the ending notes.
Broussard splintered off during songs, seamlessly leading his band into improvised, jazz-rooted jams that the crowd simply loved. The guitar twang of "Wanderer" is a certain influence from his father, Louisiana Hall of Fame guitarist Ted Broussard, who appears on several of the tracks off his son's album, Carencro. Broussard's southern roots are evident in every song, especially in "wanderer": southern rock and roll at its best, churning out at the end a chant of the song's last line (I'm a wanderer, I have no place in time / I'm just drifting on this lonely road of mine) that is reminiscent of a southern gospel, again roots of Broussard's, as he spent time singing in a Church growing up.
The soulful "Lonely Night in Georgia," one of his best songs to date landed on the evening's set list. In "Lonely Night in Georgia," Broussard has penned a gorgeous, love song that is not a sappy, poorly structured love ballad, but instead has a great melody and instrumentation that make the song stand out and delivers heartfelt, honest emotion in the lyrics. Broussard again showcases his spectacular vocal range and improvisation on the song, soaring his vocals throughout the song, stretching the tune into a slow, groovy jam that won over the crowd.
"Home" closed out the set for the evening. Broussard opened the song with an opening, repeating wail of emotional notes before getting into the heart of the song. The song features a deep, low note throughout; different than the vocal level of his other songs, but again, Broussard has the vocal range to pull off highs and lows - on both ends of the scale - that many artists cannot.
Marc Broussard is all about providing the southern comfort and hospitality for his listeners. His band was tight, allowing for Broussard to concentrate on his voice, which is just simply awesome to listen to. Broussard's songs are eclectic from one another: no song, from one to the next, has the same tempo, yet the southern influence is very real and prominent. His live performance is absolutely a must-see; Broussard's musical genius is obvious through the structure and delivery of his songs, crafted live in an improvised, yet organized manner, that is lacking on his CD. The overproduction on the CD disappears when Broussard takes these songs to the stage and brings them to life. Life is going to get very, very good for this twenty-two year old, who possesses a soulful, strong voice reminiscent of the great Stevie Wonder and mixes it with a shot of southern comfort and some straight up funk that listeners adore.
out Marks website at: www.islandrecords.com/marcbrousard