CHRIS ROBINSON B Y R A N DY PAT T E R S O N , B O O M E R O C I T Y. C O M
has been rockin’ for more than 30 years. Atlanta residents have loved him since the 1980s when he and his brother, Rich, conquered their city – first as Mr. Crowe’s Garden, then as The Black Crowes. It was that last band name that the rest of the world became gleefully aware of them when their album, Shake Your Money Maker, was unleashed. In 2010, Chris and Rich put the band on an indefinite furlough and began to work on their own projects. Chris’s is The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and has been described by some as what you would get if you blended the Allman Brothers with the Grateful Dead. Chris would say they’re just making music. The CRB is hitting Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre on September 24th for the third time in support of their latest CD, Barefoot in the Head. It is about that album and the upcoming Knoxville show that I recently chatted with Chris. Early in our conversation, I mentioned the Allman Brothers/Grateful Dead analogy and asked Robinson if that was a fair assessment. “Well, I think the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead probably listened to a lot of the same records growing up just like the Rolling Stones listened to a lot of the same records that the Beatles did,” he said. “As much as music has influenced me and is an inspiration, I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, where my father was a folk singer on ABC/ Paramount. I grew up in a house full of roots music. So on one hand I think it’s a broader influence, or you can find inspiration in the tradition you work in and take that and sort of turn it inside out and then find a place that’s ultimately big in the now or being in the present. “So I think those qualify, but I do think, between all of us in the CRB, there’s more than a hundred years of people making records or have been on tour. I’ve been doing it 30 years, and the others have been doing it 25 or 30 years themselves – Adam MacDougall and everyone, Tony Leone included and Jeff Hill.” In describing Barefoot in the Head for fans, Robinson said: “I think it’s the natural progression of the CRB’s sonic cycle that 56
EVERYTHING KNOXVILLE September 2017
we’re on. I don’t know. It’s a hard thing to describe. They’re songs and they’re melodies and images, and sometimes those images are musical and sometimes they’re literary. Sometimes they’re cinematic, and sometimes they’re super earthy and real. Hopefully the songwriting makes a connection and the band takes the material and presents in an interesting, dynamic way. We’re super lucky in this day and age to even have the opportunity to go into amazing studios and have this time to work and continue doing something that other people find archaic. Hopefully listening to the record is like an awesome evening of stimulation and conversation and culture with the people you love the most.” What can fans expect from this tour? “We’ll keep what we’re doing,” he said. “I think the more we keep our head down and just concentrate on this music – our scene grows every year. Knoxville is a great example. The first time we played, there were not that many people. The next three times, it’s like there’s always another 100 or 200 more people – another 250 people. Like I said, I don’t think we have to beat anyone over the head. It’s not the average jam band experience, and it’s not the average rock and roll experience, and it’s not this and it’s not that. I think you just have to come see if it’s something that works for you – if you like the sound."
Wrapping up our chat, I asked Robinson how he wanted to be remembered and what he hoped his legacy would be. “Oh my word. I’m the Draymond Green of rock and roll. I’m sorry, man. We have the best basketball team in the world six miles from my house! I never thought about that. I mean, I would hope that the songs would speak for themselves. I dedicated my heart and soul to the muse. For better and for worse – my opinions notwithstanding about how much I love music – it would be nice, in that pantheon of people who dedicated their lives to their muse, I would like to be put in there. I don’t know what that means except life is beautiful and strange and sad, and there’s loss and there’s hope and there’s madness. At the end of the day, I’ve been lucky enough to experience all that stuff through the lens of music. As a dyslectic, weirdo kid from Atlanta, I just see it as a gift.” To read the expanded version of this interview, visit www.boomerocity.com. Randy’s first interview was at the tender age of 13 with none other than Col. Tom Parker. Thirty-six years later he founded the webzine, Boomerocity.com, and has conducted close to 200 interviews with some of the most interesting people in music.