By Brent Thompson
In a recording career spanning more than 20 years, Marc Broussard has made a steady habit of giving back via his S.O.S.: Save Our Soul philanthropic album series. On March 3, the Louisiana-based singer/songwriter released S.O.S. 4: Blues for your Soul. Released on famed guitarist’s Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping The Blues Alive label, the project finds Bonamassa and fellow Bluesman Josh Smith sharing production duties. Offering eleven cover versions by artists including Son House, Little Milton and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, the album finds Broussard reuniting and collaborating with longtime friend Calvin Turner on the original track “When Will I Let Her Go.” On Saturday, March 18, Broussard will perform at the Lyric Theatre in a show presented by Code-R Productions. Recently, Broussard spoke with us by phone from his Carencro, La. home.
Southern Stages: Marc, thanks for your time. We are enjoying S.O.S. 4.
Marc Broussard: Thanks so much. I’m really proud of it.
Southern Stages: How did you partner up with Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith?
Broussard: I reached out to my buddy, Calvin Turner, to talk to him about the project and pick his brain. Cal said, “I’ve been doing arrangement work for Joe Bonamassa for the past couple of years – you probably ought to reach out to him.” I had Joe’s number, but we were never really close. I said, “Cal, grease the wheels for me and I’ll reach out.” I did, assuming I’d get some help on the project. Before you knew it, Joe and Josh said, “We want to produce this thing for you and we want to play on it.” I told them it’s a charity record and they said, “No problem – we want in.” It was very organic and I love seeing a project come together between musicians.
Southern Stages: That’s a lot of talented hands on deck!
Broussard: I couldn’t be more pleased with it. I’ve known Cal for years – he started out with me 20 years ago as a sideman. To be back in the studio with Cal was a joy – it gave me a level of comfort that made my job very easy.
Southern Stages: If you will, talk about recording the album at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles.
Broussard: In the lobby, there’s a jukebox of nothing but number one hits that were all recorded in the building. Everybody from Fogelberg, [Prince’s] Purple Rain, Led Zeppelin and Foreigner – you name it. It’s all been done there.
Southern Stages: How did you select the 11 cover songs for the project?
Broussard: The same way we do it for every one of these albums. I basically ask all of the stakeholders – the guys in the band, the producers and management – to put some playlists together for me to listen to. I generally go through all of those playlists and cross-reference the [songs] that are in multiple playlists and we start whittling them down democratically from there. Management always wants more hit songs and the band always wants more obscure tunes. It’s a process, but ultimately I get the final say.
Southern Stages: When covering material, is there a challenge in retaining the integrity of the original songs while placing your own stamp on them?
Broussard: Initially, when we did S.O.S. 1, the intention was to capture lightning in a bottle and not deviate from the original arrangements at all and vocally pay as much homage as possible to the original creators so that I could introduce my young fans to the music that had shaped my life. Each project has kept a bit of that spirit. We’ve gotten away when we felt like we had the license to, but why try reinventing the wheel? Ultimately, it’s about paying the kind of respect that these songs are due. People have lived with these songs and have deep relationships with these songs – it behooves us to treat them with as much respect as possible.
Southern Stages: With a large catalog of material under your belt, how do you comprise your set lists these days?
Broussard: The last two years have been difficult because I’ve had such a different cast of characters coming in and out of the band. I was with the same group of guys for more than a decade and Covid put the kibosh on the whole deal. The guys ended up in other areas of life and the music business. I’ve had to stick to the same set list over the last two years, but I feel like I’ve got a really good set of guys right now and we’re in the process of reshaping everything. It’s a matter of getting guys up to speed when it comes to how deep the catalog is because a Saturday night crowd isn’t the same as a Tuesday night crowd and a club crowd isn’t the same as a theatre crowd.
Code-R Productions presents Marc Broussard at the Lyric Theatre on Saturday, March 18. Seth Walker will open the 8:00 p.m. show. Tickets are $29.50 – $44.50 and can be purchased at www.lyricbham.com.