Jon Patrizio, Contributing Writer
Chris Robinson Brotherhood (CRB) came to town Saturday night as a part of the American Music Festival that was held this weekend, which was highlighted by several concerts on campus and in town. The CRB show was at the Oneonta Theatre, after the Arlo Guthrie (son of Woody Guthrie) show. It was promoted as the late-night show, scheduled to start at 10:15 p.m. with doors opening at 9:15 p.m. CRB was formed by Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson shortly after the Crowes second hiatus began in December 2010. The band consists of Robinson in his usual role as frontman, his fellow Black Crowes band member Adam McDougall on the keys, George Sluppick on drums (JJ Grey & Mofro), Neal Casal on guitar (Ryan Adams), and Mark “Muddy” Dutton on Bass (Burning Tree).
I knew going in (being a Black Crowes fan and having seen a couple videos of CRB online) that this show was going to be all about the rock ‘n’ roll and blues feel with a large influence from The Grateful Dead style of jamming. There were all of these elements, along with some gospel influences and electronic feels from the added timbre of McDougall playing a Moog synthesizer. The band was very laid back in their performance and seemed comfortable in their playing. Their appearance matched their attitude. From the denim and t-shirts of some of the members to the bass player’s colorful poncho and owl-shaped incense holder with several sticks burning throughout the show and all of the members having long hair and beards, they were, without any doubt in my mind, rock ‘n’ rollers through and through.
The music itself didn’t fall short of the expectations I had. It was smooth, spacey and really rockin’. Robinson’s vocals were on par with the level that he’s been achieving for the twenty years that he’s been on the scene and the three-part vocal harmonies were spot-on, with Dutton and Casal joining in. At times, they were enough to give you chills. The highlights of the show for me were the cover of The Grateful Dead song, “Mr. Charlie,” the cover of the Black Crowes song “Appaloosa,” and the last song of the set, “Sunday Sound” (a song written for New Earth Mud, Robinson’s first side project during the first Black Crowe’s hiatus). The set lasted just about two hours with the encore consisting of two songs, a Ricky Nelson cover “It’s Late” and “I Am a Pilgrim,” a song made famous by The Byrds and Johnny Cash.
Overall, it was a great concert experience. However, the negative that struck me about this show was the fact that there weren’t many people there. At my best guess, I’d say around 150 were in attendance. This means a lot of people missed out on a great show, but the good news is, as I spoke with the Theatre’s promoter, you could have another opportunity to see CRB in the future.