O.B. Buchana has yet to establish much of a name up north, but he’s one of the leading lights of soul-blues, also called southern soul—a genre that thrives on a circuit that’s still mostly regional and somewhat isolated. His voice is thick and gritty, and he favors bouncy, good-timey paeans to all-night juking and double entendre-laden odes to sexual prowess (both his own and his partners’), leavened by the occasional steamy boudoir ballad. It’s the kind of thing that some older-school blues and deep-soul aficionados find irredeemably arch, if not downright puerile, but that hard-core fans of the genre never seem to tire of.
Sat 6/8, 3 PM, Juke Joint Stage
Born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, and raised in nearby Clarksdale, Buchana got his start singing gospel. He began recording secular music in the early 1990s, and his career really took off after he signed with Memphis-based Ecko Records and released Shake What You Got! in 2004. Since then, his party anthems and patented wink-wink-nudge-nudge tales of bedroom high jinks have propelled him to the closest thing there is to superstardom in the southern-soul world.
It’s Buchana’s voice that redeems him. Even though his lyrics (and sometimes his stage show) might seem better suited to a junior high school locker room than a juke joint, his deep-throated, emotionally resonant singing keeps him grounded in what admirers of the style continue to extol as “grown folks’ music.” That marks him out—sometimes, it seems, almost in spite of himself—as a true soul man. v