After Samantha Fish completed her set in Portland, Oregon on September 24 the stage was reconfigured for Marc Broussard. Broussard comes from a musical lineage since his father, guitarist Ted Broussard is a member of the “Louisiana Hall of Fame” and was a member of the legendary “Fabulous Boogie Kings.” He had his son Marc sit in with the band at the age of five to sing “Johnny B Goode.”
Marc Broussard and his band took the stage around 9:15 PM as he picked up his guitar and dove into “Eye on the Prize” from his eponymous 2011 album. ” Broussard explained that he and guitarist Joe Stark were born one day apart in 1982 on the 13 & 14 and that the song was about the difficulty of becoming a man. “Thinkin’ back on my younger years when it was fairy tales and childhood schemes,” Broussard sang in his raspy multi octave voice. “Keep your eye on the prize” he and the band repeated over and over as Stark and Broussard played guitar riffs off each other until the volume and intensity permeated the audience. The song title is derived from from Philippians 3:14 giving another hint of his musical roots since his first band was a Christian rock group called Y.
“Baton Rouge” from 2017’s Easy to Love was a change in direction as Broussard plaintively sang on a bed of sound created by the rhythmic harmony of the sextet comprised of Broussard on guitar and vocals, aforementioned guitarist Joe Stark, Chad Gilmore on drums, DJ Raymond on bass, Jason Parfiat on alto sax and Jimmie Reamie on trumpet. “Try Me” from 2008’s Must Be the Water was a jazzier drum driven number that began a medley that was infectious and ended up with R&B drenched Soul, as the band included “Fire on the Bayou” by the Neville Brothers and the high strutting tune “Love and Happiness” by the Rev. Al Green, which gave the horn section an opportunity to shine as the audience clapped along in time. The vocal interplay was superb and the driving beat moved the audience as the sound waves undulated. Broussard’s gospel roots kept coming out in his repertoire as the band segued into Bill Withers’s “Grandma’s Hands.” “Grandma’s hands clapped in church on Sunday morning,” Broussard sang with the rest of the band.
The second to last song of the medley was “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” which was a #1 hit for the “Temptations” in 1973 and won them three Grammys. The band rocked out to the max on this one as Stark squeezed sonic peals out of his axe as he interplayed with the horn section. Then the band returned to “Love and Happiness” as sax player Jason Parfiat came center stage and wailed on his sax until Broussard replaced him and interplayed his voice with the horn section singing “Love and happiness” over and over. Everyone in the band took a spot and the medley concluded with an explosive ending.
Broussard introduced the band and thanked the audience for making it a sold out show on a weeknight, especially since it was the first night of the tour. “Home” from his 2004 album Carencro was his biggest hit so far and was the next song. Broussard sang, “Rolling down the road, going nowhere, guitar packed in a trunk…take me home.” Carencro provided a couple more selections as Broussard as the band dove into “Rocksteady” which alternated between Broussards multi-faceted voice and Stark’s lead guitar. Before “Lonely Night in Georgia” The band jammed to high heaven as the audience began to sing along. Eveyone took a turn to solo until Parfiat came forward again to center stage and wailed on his sax as the crowd went nuts with screams and applause of appreciation.
Broussard introduced “Unfunky UFO” by “Parliament Funkadelic” as a song about a race of aliens from outer space that lost their funk and came to steal it from the Earth. The band launched into a funky ass shakin’ boogie with screaming guitars and funky vocals merging into a musical gumbo that had the house rocking. “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder had Marc put down his guitar as he strutted on the stage with microphone in hand singing “people keep on learnin’, soldiers keep on warrin’.” Someone in the audience threw a stuffed dog on stage at Broussard who caught it and began to play with it before he threw it back into the crowd. Broussard picked his guitar back up and jammed as the band amped it up until the house was rocking. The ninety-minute set came to a thundering finale as the band concluded with an explosive crescendo of sound.
Marc Broussard is also a philanthropist who created the SOS Foundation in 2015 as a way to “help make a difference, with the goal of using his music to raise money for causes he is passionate about.” In 2016 he released S.O.S. 2: Save Our Soul: Soul on a Mission which is comprised of covers of music from the fifties and sixties. Fifty-percent of the profits from the album go to “City Of Refuge, based in Atlanta, Georgia that addresses homelessness and poverty in the USA. So it was fitting that for the encore he would perform “Cry to Me” a Solomon Burke cover from the album. Broussard sang to the rhythm of strumming guitars “Doncha feel like crying, well, here I am, my honey c’mon baby, cry to me.” Solomon Burke was one of the first gospel cross over artists of the 1950’s along with Sam Cooke that had successful rock & roll careers.
Review by Bob Gersztyn