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Joan Osborne to headline Siren Mountain Jam

By Derek Halsey (

Article Published: Jun. 20, 2013 | Modified: Jun. 23, 2013
Joan Osborne to headline Siren Mountain Jam

Joan Osborne will headline the inaugural Siren Mountain Jam Saturday at the High Country Fairgrounds in Boone.

Photo submitted


Festival Lineup

Friday, June 21
11 to 11:45 a.m. – The Mountain Laurels
12:30 to 1:15 p.m. – Sole Schaefer
1:45 to 2:15 p.m. – Eliza Eason
2:30 to 3:30 p.m. – Lisa Baldwin & Dave Haney
4 to 5:15 p.m. – Melissa Reaves
5:45 to 6:45 p.m. – Toshi Reagon
7:15 to 8:45 p.m. – Rising Appalachia
9:30 to 11 p.m. – Meshell Ndegeocello

Saturday, June 22
11 a.m. to noon – Samantha O’Brien
12:30 to 1:30 p.m. – Amythyst Kiah
2 to 3 p.m. – Crys Matthews
3:30 to 4:45 p.m. – The Swayback Sisters
5:15 to 6:45 p.m. –  Melissa Reaves
7:15 to 8:45 p.m. – Michelle Malone
9:30 to 11 p.m. – Joan Osborne

One of the headliners at the upcoming Siren Mountain Jam will be seven-time Grammy Award singer Joan Osborne.

The Siren Mountain Jam festival takes place June 21 and 22 at the High Country Fairgrounds in Boone.

Known as a soulful singer who has carved out a unique niche of her own in the music world,
Osborne has played with everyone from the Grateful Dead to Motown’s legendary Funk Brothers. Her latest album is called “Bring It On Home” and is filled with a bunch of blues standards that Osborne has wanted to record for years.

Like many performers, an influential teacher in school helped Osborne develop an appreciation for how music is made and the possibilities of her voice.

“I would go out in the yard when I was little and try and sing to the birds and get them to talk with me, and I sang in school, but I never thought it would be something I would do for my job or my living,” Osborne said. “I had a great music teacher in school, named Carolyn Browning, and she gave us some things to work on that were pretty sophisticated harmonically — five and six-part harmonies and things like that — for us to do when we were 12 and 13 years old.”

Living outside of Louisville, Ky., Osborne listened to a variety of music in her youth, ranging from The Spinners, The Who and Joe Cocker heard on the radio to a memorable concert by the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe.

Eventually, Osborne ended up in New York City, where she set her sights on being a documentary filmmaker. Then, one night, an acquaintance challenged her to get up onstage in a blues club and sing in public.

“The band was finished, but there was a still a piano player there, so a friend of mine dared me to go up and sing with him, and I did,” Osborne said. “The piano player said, ‘We have an open mic night here once a week. Why don’t you come back?’ So, I started going to open mic nights and discovering that there were other places that had open mic nights in the area.

"This was a time when there was a lot of blues music in the clubs of New York, and that was the time that I really caught the bug. I started going out every night and started singing as much music as I could. I was spending all of the money I could have been saving for college on Etta James records and Otis Redding records, and that was the tipping point for me.”

Osborne has yet to visit or perform in Boone, but she did have a memorable experience while being on the lineup at MerleFest in Wilkesboro a couple of years ago.

“It was really cool because I got to work with the guys in The Waybacks, and we (recreated) The Allman Brothers’ ‘Eat A Peach’ for the Hillside Album Hour, and that was really fun,” Osborne said. “I grew up in Kentucky, and you couldn’t get too far without hearing The Allman Brothers out of somebody’s car window or something, so I definitely listened to them when I was younger.

"As a chick singer, you want to tread lightly when you go and cover Allman Brothers tunes. But with everybody in the (MerleFest) audience, it is kept a secret as far as what album is going to be performed. So, when you hear those opening notes, the secret is out, and they are so excited to hear something they know. They were very welcoming, and I instantly got over my case of nerves as soon as the first few bars were played and everybody was like, ‘Yay!’”

Osborne will perform at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at the Siren Mountain Jam. For tickets and more information, visit

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