Anders Osborne at SPACE in Evanston

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Anders Osborne is finally getting the recognition he deserves! We had a chance to see him play at SPACE in Evanston a while back. Here’s how it went down…

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A few years ago, our friend Wayne turned us on to, in his words, “the best guitarist you’ve never heard of,”  Anders Osborne. His music doesn’t fit neatly into any category, but I’d say he’s a blend of blues-rock with some folk, soul, and even a little gospel mixed in.

Check out his website!

We bought one of his albums, American Patchwork, and enjoyed it, and we caught a few online performances by Anders Osborne too. (One of them was with Phil Lesh and Friends at the LOCKN’ Festival.) When Wayne told us that he was playing a solo acoustic show at a small venue less than two hours from where we live, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

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Never heard of him? Check this out:

SPACE: The Venue

SPACE is an intimate little club just north of Chicago in Evanston, a college town with a lot of artsy stuff going on, including an eclectic array of concerts at SPACE. The place only holds 330 people (including the standing area in the back), so there’s not a bad seat in the house!

Check out their website for more info. 🙂

Anders Osborne playing acoustic guitar at SPACE in Evantson, Illinois

Flash photography isn’t allowed, so this is the best shot I could get.

There’s metered street parking available and a small public garage across the street, and SPACE provides a valet service on Friday and Saturday evenings. If you use the CTA, there’s an “L” stop just a half-block away.

Rather than driving two hours home after the show, we splurged and stayed at a hotel within walking distance. And I do mean splurge – Chicago-area hotels ain’t cheap! But it was nice not to have to drive after the show.

Great Seats, Food & Brew Available

SPACE shares an entrance with an adjacent pizzeria that has a full bar, so you can grab a bite there before the show, or you can go to one of the many pubs, restaurants, or cafes in the neighborhood. There’s also a bar in the venue, so you can enjoy a beverage at the show too. If you’re seated at a table, you’ll have servers waiting on you. Otherwise, you can walk over to the bar, which is still in the concert area, so you won’t miss any music. They’ve got a nice selection of craft beers (which always makes me happy) and some watery brew too, along with an ample wine bar and a well-stocked liquor cabinet.

We had regular (non-table) seats and they were general admission, which means you can choose your seat. We ended up in the back row, pretty much center stage, which offered a nice view and great sound. There was a standing section behind us that filled up quickly. Glad we bought tickets in advance!

The Anders Osborne Show

Like I mentioned before, this was a solo acoustic show. We’re not that familiar with the Anders Osborne catalog beyond the one album we own, so we didn’t recognize a lot of the songs he played, but we still had a great time. He had two guitars – a Yamaha for most of the show, and a Martin that he played with a slide on the bluesier songs.

Anders came without a setlist; instead, he just played what he felt like playing, and even took a few requests from the audience. He encouraged the crowd to sing along on one particular song, and the lady sitting next to us had such a beautiful voice that everyone else, including Anders himself, stopped singing just to listen to her. When the song finished, we all gave her a round of applause. Anders joined us in that. You don’t see stuff like that at a big concert venue!

Here’s one song from that show:

Anders Osborne, The Storyteller…

Besides the music, Anders Osborne is a great storyteller. He’d introduce a song by telling us what was happening in his life when he wrote it, who he wrote it for, etc. He played a Grateful Dead song after telling us about performing with Phil Lesh for the first time. (“I thought I knew how to play Sugaree until we practiced it and Phil said, ‘That’s good, but this is how the Grateful Dead played it…’ It was very educational!”)

A Real Connection…

Anders is a musician who feeds off of his audience and makes a connection with the crowd, making for an interactive show. I’m sure it was even better for those who know all of his songs, but even for us, the experience was very cool!

Overall, he played for about two hours with no breaks – a bit short by concert standards, but still well worth the money and time. Since we didn’t have to drive home after the show, we took advantage of the college town scene and had a couple of post-concert beers at a nearby bar before heading back to the hotel.

We’re hoping to see him again, maybe with his full band the next time around. SPACE is a very cool venue; we’ll definitely hit up another show there sometime!

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