Over the past three nights, Chris Robinson Brotherhood has brought their diverse blend of folk, blues and psychedelic-tinged southern rock to the Brooklyn Bowl in New York City. Playing two sets each night, the band showcased why they’re much more than just “Chris Robinson’s new project.” In fact, they are a premier group in their class.
Neal Casal is great to watch, melting influences of Garcia and Clapton together to create a sound that is very warm. Keyboardist Adam MacDougall, a New York native, adds spaced-out synths to the otherwise bluesy southern rock that makes up the bulk of CRB’s live show. With a solid bassist and drummer in Mark “Muddy” Dutton and Tony Leone respectfully, the band is rounded out to be one of the more stacked acts you can catch.
Of course, the group is revolving around the luscious voice of Chris Robinson, which is still killer despite decades of use. Robinson has an uncanny ability to convey emotion with his voice, and when its stylized in the context of psych-southern-rock, it’s perfect. When they play “Roan County Banjo,” a new original, it’s clear that there is plenty of songwriting ability left in the tank of these veterans.
On Saturday night, during their third show of a three-night run, the group busted into “Shore Power,” a song Chris Robinson once described to Rolling Stone as, “a tone mosaic of life in the CRB.” While many artists have a difficult time describing their own music, C-Rob couldn’t have been more on point with his observation. The track is stretched into a territory reserved for 70s Dead, with Casal and MacDougall taking the charge on free-form solos. Robinson isn’t so bad on the guitar either, and plays a mean back-up to Casal’s lead.
The group ended things last night with an almost-acoustic encore that featured the Chuck Willis (and perhaps more relevant 60s Dead) tune, “Betty & Dupree” followed by Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country.” A couple of classics put the final exclamation point on a great three night run from one of the more exciting bands in the circuit. The technically perfected psych-blues of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood is a must-see.