Joan Osborne broke into the mainstream music scene in 1995 with the monster hit “One of Us.”

It fit in well with a lot of the somber, angst-filled hits of the time. It had a slow, steady beat and lyrics that asked deep questions, such as: “What if God was one of us/ Just a slob like one of us/ Just a stranger on the bus?”

Well, it’s been nearly 20 years since that tune and these days the main question Osborne asks her audience is “Do you wanna dance?”

Osborne is now singing with a Nashville-based, soul-infused rock band called Trigger Hippy. The group is a collective of musicians who’ve been successful in their own right, including Black Crowes’ drummer Steve Gorman, singer-songwriter Jackie Greene, bassist Nick Govrik and Nashville session guitarist Tom Bukovac.

The band kicks off its 2014 tour with a show Thursday at Port City Music Hall in Portland. Judging from the songs on the band’s debut four-song EP, released last fall on vinyl only, the show will get folks moving.

“When Steve (Gorman) first talked to me about doing this, he said he just wanted to look out from behind his drums and see people dancing,” said Osborne, 51, from her home in Brooklyn, N.Y., last week. “I thought that was great.”


Trigger Hippy is based in Nashville, writing and recording there, though members live all over. Being a native of the Louisville, Ky., area, Osborne welcomed a chance to go South more regularly.

The band members are all influenced by Southern rock, soul, blues and R&B as well.

“For me, this band hearkens back to the days when I was doing blues covers six nights a week in New York,” said Osborne.

But Trigger Hippy doesn’t do covers, at least not many. Osborne said the band has created so much new music together, there’s no room during live shows to do much else.

“The sound we have together is just what comes out of each of us when we’re together. It’s a higher energy” said Osborne.

The first song on the EP, “Turpentine,” has a Jimi Hendrix-like opening guitar riff, and a Southern rock feel on the lyrics and phrasing.


Osborne belts like a rocker as she trades vocals with Greene.

Osborne said she didn’t want to “give away” what the song might be about. The lyrics are a little puzzling:

“Drive on turpentine, sweetly sticky in the summertime/Fell quickly from afar, up to an exploding star/Gone down the kitchen drain, move into electric rain.”

After moving to New York from Kentucky in the late 1980s, Osborne played local clubs and recorded on her own music label. After a few years of recording independently, she signed with a major label and released “Relish,” which featured “One of Us.” The rest of the album had a country or folk feel.

She’s released solo albums steadily since then, but has not landed a hit to match “One of Us.”

Still, she’s been successful enough to keep performing and recording, and to have other successful musicians ask her to join their bands.


“I had been wanting to collaborate with someone for a while,” said Osborne. “I’m in a lucky position, where I know of a lot of interesting, incredible people I could work with, and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.”

So around 2010 Gorman approached her. She knew him from playing festivals with the Black Crowes and always liked him. She calls Gorman a “larger than life character with the gift of gab.” And she wanted to have fun while collaborating on music.

She said Gorman and the other members never really talked about exactly what music they wanted to do, or planned anything out. They just decided to get together and let whatever might happen, happen.

The result, Osborne says, is that together the members of Trigger Hippy create a party atmosphere and prompt a lot of folks to get “all sweaty” from dancing.

“We’re having the time of our lives up there,” said Osborne. “If someobody comes out and all they know about me is ‘One of Us,’ they might get their mind blown. But that’s a good thing.”

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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