Joan Osborne at Wolf Trap
Words by Dan Rozman
Photos by Mark Raker
Veteran singer-songwriter Joan Osborne brought her genre-spanning catalog to the cozy Barns at Wolf Trap on Nov. 29, 2023, treating the Wednesday night crowd to a captivating 13-song set. A seven-time Grammy Award nominee known for emotive vocals and socially conscious lyrics, Osborne’s performance included both older classics and songs from her new 2023 album Nobody Owns You.
At Wolf Trap, Osborne’s band was a trio, which included Will Bryant on keyboards and Jack Petruzzelli on guitar. They started the show with “I Should Have Danced More” from Osborne’s latest release, showcasing her powerful voice in one of her first live shows featuring new material. Hitting an early high note, Osborne kept things upbeat with a passionate cover of Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61″ before mellowing things out with “I Want to Be Loved” from the band’s 2012 Grammy-nominated blues album Bring It on Home.
Osborne took a moment to appreciate the venue and crowd, noting “I’m very excited to be back in this beautiful, beautiful theater for the first night of our two-night run. We’re excited to be playing actual live music for actual live present human beings.”
Hits like “One of Us” and “St. Teresa” drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd, while Osborne also made space for deeper album cuts. The cozy Barn setting proved perfect for Osborne’s confessional yet resilient lyrics and nuanced vocals.
Watch the official music video for St. Teresa by Joan Osborne on YouTube:
During the main set, Osborne told the audience stories about some of the songs. She acknowledged the tumultuous times we are living in, noting that “music is one of the things that allow us to stay connected to a sense of joy of being alive. I think it helps us to get up every day and face the challenges we have to face and help the people who need our help.” She then dove into “Whole Wide World” off the 2005’s Trouble and Strife, an album she said explores that theme of perseverance.
Some of her songs are deeply personal. Osborne, who has always supported women in her music, wanted to address the pressures facing young women today.
“Nobody Owns You” which she wrote for her teenage daughter who “strangely enough wasn’t interested in hearing all the many words of wisdom and pearls of wonderful advice that I would love to give her to help her navigate her world and to save her a lot of trauma and suffering.” She said, “Lucky for me I have this job where I can take those words, and I can put them in a song, and at some point, she will probably listen to it.”
They closed out the night with a spirited two-song encore of The Grateful Dead’s “Stella Blue” and her 2020 song “Take It Any Way I Can Get It.”
Osborne and her band delivered a memorable night of old and new favorites, made even more special by her palpable joy to be playing at Wolf Trap again.
Certain aspects of the research and/or drafting for this piece may have employed AI.
I Should Have Danced More – Nobody Owns You
Highway 61 – Song of Bob Dylan
I Want to Be Loved – Bring It On Home
Whole Wide World -Trouble and Strife
Trouble and Strife – Trouble and Strife
Nobody Owns You – Nobody Owns You
A Woman’s Work – Nobody Owns You
Pensacola – Relish
Saint Teresa – Radio Waves
One of Us – Relish
Serve Somebody – Bob Dylan
Stella Blue Grateful Dead
Take It Any Way I Can Get It – Trouble and Strife
Here are some photos of Joan Osborne performing at Wolf Trap on Nov. 29, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Mark Raker.