Both draw from their eternally colorful southern upbringing to create unforgettable musical paintings of the landscapes they've experienced in their lives. This is what draws me to their music more than anything and inspires me to strive to become that same species of musician.
Time and time again, in every song you listen to from either of these swamp blues/soul masters, you will be transformed to the place they are or were when they first wrote the song. True genius!
I became familiar with each of them at separate times, but have grown to love what they both do immensely. I've seen them both in concert several times and have even had the extreme pleasure of meeting both artists backstage after shows here in Colorado. They are both artists that inspire me as a musician. I want to be like them...I want to write and perform like them....I want to share my music with others and have it touch and inspire them like they do! That's how much they have molded my musical ideals and spurred on my tireless attempts to become a full time professional musician. My heart bursts out of my chest when I hear JJ's blues filled, grovel laden vocals on his song “99 Shades of Crazy”. I simply can't hold back the tears every time I listen to Marc's song A Life Worth Living. This is what music is supposed to do to you. And I want to effect others in this way so much it's hard to explain.
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And then you'll never guess what happened...
I don't know why I had never in my mind thought that I would ever see JJ Grey and Marc Broussard together but in the fall of 2014, they came through town to perform together, along with Anders Osbourne and Luther Dickinson in an acoustic setting they labeled The Southern Soul Assembly Tour. 2 incredible shows that I will never forget...including an a capella ending from Marc that, still to this day, makes me cry every time I watch it (video below). After performing, I had the chance to meet Marc and ask him a few questions. I asked him if he was looking forward to his Western leg of his Southern Soul Assembly tour. He proceeded to tell me, and a small group of other fans who were there, just how excited he was about it and how much he really enjoys listening to the other 3 guys (Grey, Osbourne & Dickinson) on the tour perform their songs. He said that he had never met JJ before but since the beginning of the tour out east, he and JJ have spent a great deal of time with each other and are now great friends.
So what would I ask JJ & Marc if I ever had the chance to sit down and talk with them? So Many things: How/When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician? What is a typical day in the life of JJ Grey/Marc Broussard? When you write songs do you write the music first or the lyrics first? Who are your idols, inspirations, heroes? What is your latest project? How do you go to the place you need to go to find the emotion you need to write a song. And Then how do you go to that same place when it's time to perform it live? Do you like to write alone or to collaborate with others? What do you like most/least about touring? What would you say you enjoy more; performing live or writing/recording in the studio? BBQ or Cajun Food? Blues or Soul? Ahhhh!! All questions I would love to ask if the setting were presented.
So in replacement of that setting, I will simply send a link of this Love letter to JJ & Marc. With absolutely no expectation of either of them reading it or responding to it. That's not the motivation for writing it. Bottom line, if given the chance to say anything to my idols, I would simply want to say thank you so much for the inspiration and motivation ya'll give me through your artistry. I would not have the courage or the passion to pursue my own music career aspirations without your influences.
**What are your thoughts or questions? Please feel free to leave comments or questions. I would love to hear what you think.
**Johnny Ryan is a professional singer/songwriter from Denver, CO. For more information or to join Johnny Ryan's exclusive Backstage Area where you can have access to free downloads of Johnny's Music and much, much more!