Monday, November 16, 2009

Days I Will Never Forget [the Black Crowes]

There are days in your life that you will remember forever. I was fortunate enough to have 2 this week. The first was an All Access Pass to the Black Crowes at the Pageant. When the Crowes busted on to a thirsty music scene in 1990 with Shake Your Money Maker, I was an instant fan. They were accessible and offered the two qualities I look for most in a band, great vocals and good lyrics. Sadly I lost track of them after Amorica. I tried to search my mind for a reason why I would have let them slip from regular play, but I have no good excuse. I do know I started playing guitar in 1996 and my musical focus shifted quickly to singer/songwriters like Edwin McCain, David Wilcox, Dave Mathews, and Duncan Sheik. Still that is not an acceptable reason. When a friend from work approached me about going to the concert, I jumped at the chance.

The invitation was kind of odd because as we discussed the concert, he kept referencing VIP and getting back stage. Now, I have been a fan of music my whole life, I can still remember seeing Heart and Mister Mister with my mom and the Chicago Blues festivals when my little youth belly was full on hotdogs & funnel cakes and my ears were in love with the soulful sounds of life that were being emitted from the stage, but I have never been back stage (unless I was playing the show, of course). My friend is pretty high up in the company I work for, so I thought maybe that is how he rolled, like maybe he has some corporate pull or something. Honestly I didn’t know and didn’t care, we could have had GA tickets, and I would have been stoked. To see and hear Chris Robinson do his thing was all I needed.

The Monday before the show Tom rolled into my office and started talking about VIP seating and getting on the bus. The bus! Seeing a tour bus is a MAJOR fantasy of mine, not the Black Crowes bus specifically but any tour bus. So many of my dreams are wrapped up in that bus that I just want to see what my life could be like some day. At any rate, I had to get to the bottom of this. How were we getting all the special treatments? So, I asked. His reply, “You jerk…the drummer is my brother. You didn’t know?” No! Tom and I connected through music upon first introduction. He is also in a band and is an amazing, toneful, lead player. Tom’s son is also a skilled guitarist. We spent a lot of time discussing gear, our projects, and his son’s bands, but the topic of his brother never came up.

The concert was amazing. The Black Crowes can throw down with any band, stage presence that would make even the most committed girlfriend question whether or not the Robison brothers count as 1 or 2 on her freebie list. Chris’ voice broke through the thick jam progressions and grounded the audience in the reality that they were witnessing one of the great singers of our time. With the addition of Luther Dickinson on lead, the grooves were intense but well constructed. I never had a sense that they were just noodling. They were always moving the tune somewhere.

And Tom’s brother, Steve, was a monster behind the kit providing nice punctuated beats, and helping things stay in order while giving us some ear candy to appreciate.

As it turned out, I did not get to see the bus, but I did get to watch the show from the wing, meet Steve, Luther, and the keyboardist Adam MacDougall. More than I could ask for from any concert. Tom, if you are reading, thanks!!!

(Sorry for the photo quality, I was shooting with my phone)

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