- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2009

Few modern voices are as powerful as Marc Broussard’s soulful, Bayou-bred baritone. Drawing equally from blues, roots rock and Louisiana’s Cajun heritage, Mr. Broussard has distinguished himself from other crooners over the course of three albums, all of which display his swampy grooves and Southern grit to tuneful effect.

Mr. Broussard, 27, doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

“I like to work really fast,” he explains from Carencro, La., the hometown that continues to inspire much of his music. “I don’t like wasting time, and that’s why I hire really talented guys to work with.”

Last year, the “talented guys” included the Nashville String Band and seven veteran horn players, all of whom made appearances on Mr. Broussard’s third album, “Keep Coming Back.” Recorded in eleven days, the album captured the spirit of Mr. Broussard’s live show while exploring the boundaries of his sound.

This year, the songwriter has slimmed down his lineup for an intimate acoustic tour. Dubbed Marc Broussard: Welcome to My Living Room, the tour will visit fourteen venues this fall, beginning with the Birchmere and concluding with the House of Blues in Houston.

Although he often writes songs on the acoustic guitar, Mr. Broussard says the Living Room tour is not a back-to-basics affair. “The intention is to give the fans something they haven’t seen in a while,” he clarifies. “We want to get out there and give a good sit-down show.”

Rehearsals took place during the first weekend of October, when Mr. Broussard met up with guitarist Joe Stark and percussionist Chad Gilmore in Houma, La. The trio mostly “hung out, drank beers and ran through songs,” although they also took a break on Saturday to watch the Louisiana State University Tigers beat the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

“We re-evaluated the arrangements and did some vocal work,” the singer adds. “We’re pretty well-prepared now.”

Although touring keeps him on the road for much of the year, Mr. Broussard still believes that home is where the heart is. He named his major-label debut after his hometown, while the album’s first single — a blistering, stomping song named “Home” — pays tribute to Louisiana’s musical influence.

Now that he’s planning on spending the rest of the fall away from Carencro, he’ll add some traces of his own living room to the Living Room shows.

“We can’t use all the props that I want because this is not a bus tour,” he explains. “We’re flying around everywhere and can’t bring many things with us. So even though we can’t do much work aesthetically, we’ll pull furniture out of the dressing room for some of the shows. Maybe throw a couch or two onstage and have some fans sitting up there with us. It all depends on the night.”

Marc Broussard kicks off his tour Oct. 13 at the Birchmere Music Hall. Charlie Mars will open. The all-ages show starts at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $25.

Dodos take flight

The Dodos‘ most recent album, “Time to Die,” was leaked onto the Internet several months before its official release. Rather than track down the culprit, the band took a more Zen-like approach.

“We breathed a sigh of relief,” says Meric Long, the duo’s vocalist and principal songwriter. “Nowadays, if your album doesn’t leak, it’s almost seen as an insult. It’s a sign that nobody cares. We had finished the record by that point, and we just wanted people to hear it.”

Since forming in 2005, the Dodos have logged months upon months on the road, traveling as far as mainland Europe to play their blend of pop music and experimental, tribal folk songs.

“Being on the road is how we make our money,” explains the singer, who founded the group after assaying San Francisco’s venues as a solo songwriter. “If we’re not touring, we’re kind of losing our income.”

Touring also serves a creative purpose. During the band’s infancy, it helped Mr. Long explore his connection with drummer Logan Kroeber. Both members had a keen interest in percussion — Mr. Long studied West African Ewe drumming in school, while Mr. Kroeber played in a series of heavy-metal bands — and they soon carved out a sound that paid special attention to rhythm.

As their live shows progressed, the two added a third musician to their touring lineup, enabling the Dodos to widen their sound with vibraphone and toy piano.

“Time to Die,” released in July 2009, effectively bridges the gap between the band’s studio output and live performances. “We wanted to transfer the energy that we have at our concerts onto the album, and I wanted to record using the instruments we’d have at every show,” Mr. Long explains. “We played more as a band, rather than a duo with bells and whistles.”

The Dodos will bring their pop craft to the Rock N Roll Hotel on Oct. 9. The sold-out show also features music by Riffs alumni the Ruby Suns.

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