Josh Groban: Music to reach people
Josh Groban said that he "loves" playing concerts in Oregon.
"I myself am quite weird," the singer-songwriter said, putting a spin on "Keep Portland Weird," before adding, "It's a musical state; there's so much great musical influence from throughout the state."
Groban, on the "Bridges" tour and celebrating the release of a live album and DVD recorded at Madison Square Garden, plays a rare outdoor date when the singer-songwriter and his band perform at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, Thursday, Aug. 22.
It's summertime, and it just feels right to be playing outdoor gigs.
"It's actually my favorite, it's preferred," he said. "I love energy of an outdoor area; you don't need all the bells and whistles of an arena. Audiences are a little looser with people having a couple cold ones, sitting on the lawn. You make use of that looseness, and tell stories."
The Californian Groban, 38, continues to enjoy tremendous success in a career that extends back 18 years to his debut self-titled album, and when he earned acclaim at the Billboard Music Awards for No. 1 classical crossover performer and album ("Closer").
"Bridges" is his eighth studio album (peaking at No. 1 on Billboard in October 2018), and the live CD and DVD package is titled "Josh Groban Bridges Live: Madison Square Garden," released in April.
"I feel like I've had some of my best 'games' there," said Groban, using a sports metaphor for playing at the Garden. "We decided to hide a bunch of cameras and didn't let the audience know."
On tour, he has played some shows with the great trumpet player Chris Botti, who grew up in Corvallis and spent formative music years at Mt. Hood Community College and playing in Portland clubs. "We go back many years," Groban said. "He played with us on my 'Awake' tour (2008)." (Botti won't be with Groban at Edgefield.)
Groban has sold more than 30 million albums. He has also found success in movies (including "Crazy, Stupid, Love"), on Broadway ("Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812") and television (lately co-starring with Tony Danza on Netflix's "The Good Cop"). He won a 2017 Tony Award for his work on the Broadway show.
Groban has produced such singles as "To Where You Are," "You Raise Me Up," "Believe," "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)," "The Prayer" and "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)," as well as "Bigger Than Us" from the "Bridges" album.
He's a spiritual singer with a beautiful baritone voice.
"Music has always reached me on a soulful and spiritual level, even though I'm not particularly religious," he said. "Reaching people on that intangible, it's a feel-it-in-your-bones place, where things in this divisive and crazy world can reach us. It came down to the goosebump test."
Groban said he's "grateful" for his opportunities, and he's already set up a busy next couple years. That would put him at 20 years in the music business.
What's the secret to longevity?
"It's hard for me to sit back and look back and be proud," he said. "You never want to look back on your laurels.
"If you're a shrink and make me look back and put a gold star on my shirt, I am proud of it. It's such a team effort. I've been allowed to do my thing, continue to write my own playbook year after year. That's something I never take for granted."
Josh Groban plays McMenamins Edgefield at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22. Tickets: starting at $89.50, www.edgefieldconcerts.com.
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