The Black Crowes and Carney, Britt Festival, Jacksonville, OR- 9/7
Living in a small town, its easy to forget what real music sounds like. Theres plenty of good music and talented musicians but lately I find myself drifting toward any guitar and voice on the street, swirling around drum circles, I even gave the fall foliage shimmering on the wind a standing ovation. The Black Crowes put things back into perspective.
My rose-hued lenses were first cracked by the opening band, Carney, who poured themselves intensely into patient, long plunge funk rolling over metal that burst into open-mouth, squealing-kittens rock. The lead singer, Reeve Carney, gripped the microphone with both hands funneling, I Want You (Shes So Heavy), passionately through the single stream of his wiry flesh, nearly plucking himself right off the stage.
The Black Crowes shattered my glasses completely, reminding me I dont wear prescription lenses. Their music has personality. They swayed imperceptibly over notes. All corners were rounded and glued, holding their fluid Southern rock as it steeped caricatures of sound in sea-hard expressions shimmying off the banks of six talented musicians. Striding up to the microphone, as if at the end of a blind date going in for a kiss, Chris Robinson moved with determination and greeted the audience with a call to, Brothers. He stepped back, absorbing his move. Then, sashayed to the front of the stage, charming the mysterious amplified stand, grabbing it, he howled, Sisters. And so it began
The guitars played a game of squash in a slow motion hurl of surprised notes sliced like potato skins back and forth across the stage between Rich Robinson, Luther Dickinson and Sven Pipien, on bass. Chimed percussion lined the cohesive, mud-slung hammock harmony. Adam MacDougalls widespread fingers seized over his keyboard, pausing artfully when not tantalizing smooth flute whistles and percolated undercurrents. Chris Robinson played in the music as if splashing in water. His pressure-cooked vocals inspired my toes to sink into the osmosis amoeba of upbeat instrumental harmonies rooted deep in old coffee cans buried in the backyard. In a powerful drum solo that substituted for set break, Steve Gormans head hung limp, conserving every ounce of energy for his limbs that splattered spotlight as if it were tangible dew bounding off his drumheads. Chris broke the patient percussion storm with a harmonica dawn, igniting the band to action before throwing the harmonica to the back of the stage and grabbing his mistress microphone.
Closing out the 47th season of the Britt Festival under a clear sky, and a few cheers from the surrounding foliage, the Black Crowes bowed to a round of plastic wine glasses and beer bottles raised toward the stage (the Britt Fest being one of the only venues in Oregon where you can still bring your own beer and wine). They didnt play many of their most well known songs, but they played real music. No gimmicks, no orchestration, no accidental, bottle a whiskey, wake up in a ditch on the side of the road, ditties; just strong, solid, rock, playing in cohesive waters.