Joan Osborne Joins All-Star Band Appearing at Sleepy Hollow Music Fest

Joan Osborne. Photo credit: Laura Crosta

Multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated vocalist Joan Osborne, one of the most sought-after performers in American roots music, is joining the Nightingale All-Stars for their performance at the Sleepy Hollow Music Festival on June 8.  

Osborne will take the stage with two old friends: Blues Traveler frontman John Popper, and guitarist/songwriter/producer Jono Manson. 

“I’ve known both John Popper and Joan Osborne since the very inception of their careers, and we all collaborated extensively back in the day, so it’s great for us all to finally be reunited,” Manson said. “We will definitely play some classics from Joan and Blues Traveler’s repertoires along with a few gems chosen specially for this occasion, such as songs from the projects that I’ve produced for Popper and other fun surprises.” 

Filling out the all-stars are multi-instrumentalist Craig Dreyer; Brett Bass, who played bass with Greg Allman; and Eric Kalb, who was the drummer for the Dap Kings and Sharon Jones.  

The festival lineup also includes Cold War Kids, Danielle Ponder, the Verve Pipe, Clare Maloney and the Great Adventure, Anthony Giaccio and the Assortments, and the Barn Vultures. A second stage will feature five additional local bands. 

Osborne, whose breakout 1995 album, Relish, includes the popular tunes One of Us, St. Teresa and Right Hand Man, spoke with River Journal for this Q&A, which has been condensed for brevity: 

Manson and Popper performing at the Capital Theater in Port Chester in October 2023. Photo supplied

River Journal: The Sleepy Hollow Music Festival will be a reunion of sorts for you with Popper and Manson. What should we know about the show? 

Osborne: I’ve known those guys from the late 1980s when we were playing on the club scene in New York City, and became friends with them back then. But we’ve gone our separate ways and done separate things for a long time, and this will be the first time we’ve been on a stage together since then.  

Joan Osborne’s latest studio album is titled, Nobody Owns You.

I’ve done a few things with Blues Traveler and John Popper and a couple of things with Jono Manson, but not the three of us together, not since those early days. So that’s going to be a really special thing and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a big party and we’re all excited to do this and it’s going to be great. 

RJ: The title track on your new album, Nobody Owns You, carries a strong message of independence. Who did you have in mind when you wrote it? 

Joan Osborne: It came out of a year that was really challenging and difficult for me. My teenage daughter was growing up and getting ready to leave home and really wanting to establish her own independence and identity and really pulling away from me. That was very painful for me, and I felt that I had so much that I wanted to tell her as she’s standing on the cusp of adulthood, getting ready to leave home and yet, where she’s at, she doesn’t want to hear any of that from me. She’s very much rejecting anything that I would say to her. 

So, I felt like my one recourse was to put this message in a song and maybe at some point she’ll listen to it, and until then, that message is there for anyone who might need it. It is very much about just trying to understand that you are complete within yourself.  

RJ: Your career has included performing with so many different artists, including Pavarotti, Patti Smith, the Funk Brothers and the Grateful Dead. How are you able to cross genres so smoothly?  

Osborne: I don’t really look at music as being only specific to certain genres. I think it’s a continuum. I think the genres have solidified because of commercial reasons, for wanting to sell records to a certain audience, but for musicians it’s a lot more fluid than that. So, I don’t necessarily look at singing a song with Pavarotti or singing a song with the Grateful Dead as being all that different. You bring your own voice and what it can do to each project and then you just try to have your voice serve the song in whatever musical situation you’re in.  

That being said, I think a lot of things I have done have been within the broader American roots tradition, and I feel like that really covers a lot of territory,  

When I was like 11, 12, 13 years old, I sang in a choir and we sang a lot of old English madrigal Christmas music, and so I drew on a lot of that experience in the Pavarotti situation. You’re standing next to someone with this massive voice, and I felt like there’s nothing I can do that can match what he’s got vocally, so I’m going to take the opposite tack, and I’m going to do something that’s more quiet and see if that works. 

River Journal: You’re originally from Kentucky but have been living in Brooklyn for some time. How has the Brooklyn vibe affected your music? 

Osborne: What I love about Brooklyn is just the mix of people. I come from a small town in Kentucky where everything that happens in life happens mostly behind closed doors, and New York City is the total opposite. Everything that happens, happens out on the street and you see people of all different nationalities, people speaking different languages, and different fashion sensibilities, different sexual preferences, different religious ideologies. It’s all here, and I find that incredibly inspiring as an artist to be in that mix. I just keep my eyes and ears open as I walk down the street and I get so many ideas just from doing that. 

The Sleepy Hollow Music Festival takes place in Kingsland Point Park on Saturday, June 8. The box office opens at 10:30 a.m. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Music starts at 12:30 p.m. and ends around 9 p.m. 

Tickets are available at 

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