Chris Robinson Brotherhood bringing psychedelic blues to North Tahoe
December 9, 2015
If you go
What: The Chris Robinson Brotherhood
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Tickets: $20 (advance); $23 (day of show)
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — In the fall of 2010, with the Black Crowes on hiatus, the group's frontman, Chris Robinson, started a side project: The Chris Robinson Brotherhood.
The Los Angeles-based rock outfit — infused in blues and psychedelic swagger — introduced themselves to the public in early 2011 by embarking on nearly 50 shows in California over a nine-week span.
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood was a hit in the Golden State. A year later, the group introduced themselves nationally with not one, but two studio albums: "Big Moon Ritual" and "The Magic Door."
Now, with five albums and an EP in its repertoire, coupled with the Black Crowes announcing their breakup earlier this year, it's safe to say The CRB is more than just a side project — even if the members never intended to be anything more than a group of music-making friends.
"It's really just a band of friends coming together; it was just an experiment at first," Neal Casal, the group's lead guitarist and backup vocalist, said in a phone interview this week with the Sun-Bonanza. "We did it to have some fun, and five years later we're still at it and have no plans to stop. It started quite organically and grew into what is now our lives."
Since their incarnation, the group's relentless touring has included frequent stops at North Lake Tahoe. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood — composed of Robinson (vocals/guitar), Adam Macdougall (keys), Tony Leone (drums), Mark Dutotn (bass) and Casal — will continue that tradition Saturday when it saunters on stage inside the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room.
Casal noted that the CBC is a venue the group looks forward to playing for many reasons.
"They have really excellent sound there; they have a really great PA system," Casal said of the CBC. "And nice people who work there and awesome crowds. It's a good place for us, and it's such a beautiful area. We always look forward to going back there."
The CRB is playing in support of its latest release, "Betty's Blends Vol 2: Best From the West." The batch of songs is a live LP mixed by legendary Grateful Dead archivist Betty Cantor-Jackson, who did the same in 2013 for the band's Betty's Blends Vol. 1 release.
"This edition has a second set kind of vibe," Cantor-Jackson said in a press release. "There are some tunes with experimental spaces and some with a very different feel from slamming rock to majestic and soulful ballads. The CRB are inventive, expressive and poetic. They hit so many notes that bring such delight."
In other words, The CRB unravels its sprawling tunes on the same psychedelic wavelength the Grateful Dead occupied.
In that vein, Casal said attendees of Saturday's show can expect a two-hour, freewheeling set list spanning The CRB's entire catalog as well as a wide range of covers.
"A lot of our inspiration comes from the earliest days of rock and roll — '50s music, actually," Casal said. "We kind of reinterpret a lot of those songs and rearrange them for modern times."
Showgoers might even hear a new CRB song played live for the first time.
"We play a lot of songs that aren't fully finished in front of audiences," Casal said. "Part of our process is working out music in front of audiences, which is unique.
"I think a lot of people who've followed us form the beginning feel like they're part of these songs. The people that are there the first night something was played, they remember that and they kind of get to see the songs grow with us."
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