Blues and pop singer Joan Osborne is returning to the East End this Friday, August 8, performing at the newly renovated Suffolk Theater.
The Riverhead concert is part of an ongoing tour to promote the “One of Us” singer’s new album, Love and Hate, which debuted in April. The show will feature songs from Love and Hate as well as a variety of tunes from different stages in the singer’s 25-year career. It will also be an acoustic show, providing audience members with a chance to hear elemental, stripped-down versions of songs Osborne’s fans will already be familiar with.
“It’s kind of like you’re sitting around a living room together—it’s very, very intimate, and it’s just been a lot of fun for us,” Osborne said of the Love and Hate tour in a phone interview Wednesday.
Kentucky born and raised, Osborne moved to New York City in her 20s to study filmmaking at New York University. It was New York that introduced the singer to the blues scene. Osborne began performing at weekly open mic nights and slowly became entranced with the blues style of music she is so well-known for today. “At that point, I realized that I could probably leave my filmmaking ambitions behind, at least for the moment, and just try to see where this [singing] would take me.”
That decision led to a whirlwind of success: the singer rose to fame in 1995 with the hit single “One of Us” from her debut album, Relish, and has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards over the course of her career so far.
Osborne has not, however, forgotten her roots in film. The singer combined her two passions when she directed the music video for her 1995 song “St. Teresa,” and credits her cinematic background for her unique approach to songwriting, even at the start of her career. “Because I had this background in film, I was concentrating on trying to be very descriptive with my lyrics and trying to make movies with the songs,” Osborne said. “That was something I consciously set out to do and I think it was something that might have set me apart from other writers because I had that background in film and because I wanted to think of these songs as, well, movies.”
As for her new album, Osborne says Love and Hate is “all about the faults of romantic love.” While current pop songs typically focus on the aspects of a relationship where you’re either falling in love or in the middle of a breakup, Osborne said, “To me, I feel like the most interesting terrain is that part in the middle where you’re trying to love somebody and also not lose yourself in that relationship. A lot of the songs on this record are really about examining that part of what it means to be in love where it’s not just easy and it’s not just the beginning or the end, but it’s the complicated middle.”
Despite her success, Osborne remains committed to one thing above all else: her family. “I have a daughter now, so I don’t go out for six months at a time and stay away from home on those lengthy tours,” she said. “I try to keep it within the bounds of still being able to be a mom.”
Although the Friday concert will be the first time Osborne performs at Suffolk Theater, she’s a veteran when it comes to visiting Long Island. In the past, Osborne has played at Amagansett’s Stephen Talkhouse as well as a few other East End venues.
One of her reasons for returning to Long Island: Osborne plans to take the weekend off and spend some time at the beach. “It’s a beautiful place to be in the summer,” she said.
Of her long career, Osborne said, “I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate.” Some of the highlights of her career include collaborating with artists like Bob Dylan and Patti Smith.
Asked who she’d like to collaborate with that she hasn’t yet had the chance to work with, Osborne replied immediately: “[Bruce] Springsteen. He’s amazing, and if I had to make a wish I’d wish for him today.”
Hear that, Springsteen? Joan Osborne is waiting for your call.
Osborne will be performing at the Suffolk Theater at 118 East Main Street in Riverhead on Friday, August 8, at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets to the show, visit suffolktheater.com.