A busy Friday night brought Chris Robinson Brotherhood to Kalamazoo, Jonny Lang to 20 Monroe Live and Day 2 of Cowpie Music Festival near Caledonia. The images and more at Local Spins.
CHRIS ROBINSON BROTHERHOOD AT BELL’S BREWERY
Walking in to Bell’s Brewery Beer Garden Friday night, Chris Robinson Brotherhood fans were greeted by the mellow vibes present for years at Grateful Dead shows.
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It wasn’t quite the party atmosphere of today’s Phish crowds, but more that of the older, chill, familial scene that the former Black Crowes’ front man cut his teeth on as an up-and-coming musician in the early ’90s, both as a fan and through playing Furthur Festivals with his longtime band in the early post-Jerry era.
The still much-talked-about, ongoing animosity between Robinson and his estranged brother, Rich (former Crowes’ guitarist), led to the breakup of the Crowes earlier this decade. Since 2011, Robinson has been busy with CRB, spitting out a studio album on a near annual basis while also releasing a handful of official live releases and touring relentlessly.
While it likely won’t make the cut, Friday’s sold-out Kalamazoo show is one that could easily be considered for another live album, as it epitomized everything CRB is about, opening up with a spacey key-driven, 14-minute “New Cannonball Rag” that set the tone early both musically and lyrically. “Like smoke in the wind and away we blow,” crooned the 51-year-old, lanky, tie-dyed laden, stony-eyed Robinson as the crowd slipped into an easy groove right out of the gate, buckling in for a thematic trip through the CRB songbook.
Fueled by the far-reaching keys of Adam MacDougall, the spaced-out guitar interplay of Neal Cassal and Robinson as well as the rhythm section of drummer Tony Leone and bassist Jeff Hill, attendees less familiar with Robinson’s post-Crowes work got a solid taste of the drawn-out psychedelic flavor that is CRB. The band’s transitions were tight throughout the night as they flowed extended jams such as the 15-minute “Tulsa Yesterday” into fast, five-minute funky cuts like “The Music’s Hot” without missing a beat.
The balanced set list was dotted with staples like “Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham” and “Narcissus Soaking Wet,” newer tracks off of 2017’s “Barefoot in the Head” such as “Hark the Herald Hermit Speaks,” If You Had a Heart to Break” and “Good to Know” and an encore of The Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Virginia,” the band’s lone cover of the night. – Ryan Boldrey
SET LIST: (Set 1) New Cannonball Rag, Eagles on the Highway, Beggars Moon, Tulsa Yesterday, The Music’s Hot, Roan Country Banjo, Star or Stone, Hello L.A. bye-bye Birmingham (Set 2) Good to Know, Narcissus Soaking Wet, Rare Birds, Hark the Herald Hermit Speaks, If you had a Heart to Break, Girl I Love you, Shore Power, Got Love (Encore) Sweet Virginia
PHOTO GALLERY: Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Bell’s Brewery Beer Garden
Photos by Derek Ketchum
JONNY LANG AT 20 MONROE LIVE
Still touring behind his latest album, “Signs,” Jonny Lang brought his trademark passionate guitar-playing and vocals to 20 Monroe Live in Grand Rapids on Friday for an evening of blues, rock, soul and gospel-hued music for a big crowd. Zane Carney opened the show.
PHOTO GALLERY: Jonny Lang, Zane Carney at 20 Monroe Live
Photos by Anthony Norkus
COWPIE MUSIC FESTIVAL: DAY 2 AT SHAGBARK FARM
If things seemed to shape up in upbeat and promising fashion during Thursday’s opening volley of Cowpie Music Festival near Caledonia, then Friday’s second-day spectacle was pure magic: an action-packed day of energetic, crowd-pleasing performances on two stages (plus a “rolling” third stage).
While The Steel Wheels, Desmond Jones, Jake Kershaw, Bigfoot Buffalo, Bootstrap Boys and Guitar Up! heated things up on the main Pasture Stage, Grand Rapids jam-band heroes Ultraviolet Hippopotamus closed out a hectic night with a post-midnight set on the tented new Frontier Stage, which also boasted vibrant performances by Act Casual, Cabildo, Fauxgrass and Care Ballet.
Highlights included Virginia’s Steel Wheels’ exquisite harmonies and razor-tight musicianship, which closed out the Pasture Stage after Desmond Jones’ boisterously fun, party-starting, diverse jams that had the boys performing in full ’70s-style, prom-tux regalia.
Then there was Jake Kershaw and band’s sizzling set of blues-rockers that had the 17-year-old whiz kid once again revving up a crowd with his eye-popping performance (which even included a Montrose cover).
Qualifying as the most under-the-radar gem on Saturday? Cabildo’s exuberant, rock en Espanol set on the Frontier Stage.
Check out some video highlights, with an incredible opening song by Steel Wheels that you’ve got to watch. And check out photo galleries and video from Day 1 here: Cowpie 2018 hoofs it up on nearly flawless opening night – John Sinkevics
VIDEO: Cowpie Music Festival 2018 – Day 2
Video by John Sinkevics
PHOTO GALLERY: Cowpie Day 2
Photos by Veronica Leigh Anderson and John Sinkevics