Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The seasoned Chris Robinson Brotherhood takes Druid City Music Hall tonight

Jay Blakesberg

When five musicians with over 100 years of experience in the music industry through various projects, solo careers and involvement in other bands come together, one wouldn’t assume a specific group of influences for the group. Chris Robinson Brotherhood is no exception. Each member has cultivated a musical styling influenced by previous work that has established the band’s impeccable quality to resist being pinned down by a specific genre.

“This is a band full of very serious record nerds,” said Neal Casal, lead guitarist for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. “So, we carry a turntable with us on tour and we hit record stores in every city we go to if we can manage it and we buy vinyl. We fill up the front of our bus with records and we’re constantly listening to music, the most wide-ranging music. It could be anything. The amount of music that this group collectively listens to is rather staggering. Usually, someone comes in with a stack of records and we all sit together and listen whatever it is and get inspired by that. It’s a pretty free-flowing process we have going here. We play a lot of music, but we also listen to a whole lot of music.”

Chris Robinson, lead vocalist and guitarist for the band, called on Casal and Adam MacDougall, keyboardist, in 2011 to form Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Robinson’s previous band, Black Crowes, was coming to an end and he wanted to experiment with the idea of forming his own group.

“He wanted to have a sound much different from the Black Crowes,” Casal said. “He wanted to start a band in a completely different direction so he called me and Adam and a couple other guys in the group at that time. We started out by playing a few months of shows just in California. We just toured around California a little bit to see if the band and the experiment might work. It turned out working well enough for us to be here six years later.”

Since 2011, the band has toured across the country, performing almost a thousand times in various venues and cities. Since its formation, the band has used live performance to experiment with their music and has informed their writing process.

“We’ve played hundreds of hundreds of shows, written mountains of songs and our evolution has taken place by the act of doing it, physically taking part in it,” Casal said. “We’re driving around the country, setting up our gear, and playing for people every night. We evolved our band in front of people. We write songs and go out and play them for audiences before they are finished. There are people that have been with us since the beginning. They’ve seen us through all these things and the evolution of the band. I think it’s part of what makes the whole journey interesting, to actually track it with us. We’re not a group that perfects ourselves and then goes out in front of people, you see us grow in real time. That’s what makes us a real band. That’s what makes our music a living entity.”

Each member of the band has extensive experience in the music industry. This has allowed for each member to submerge themselves in the songwriting process and production for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

“The first seed of the song always comes from Chris,” Casal said. “He’s the lyric writer of the band and he generates the origin of each tune. He’ll have songs in various forms of completion, sometimes a quarter finished, sometimes half, sometimes almost done but missing one part. He usually presents the songs to me first and we go through them and I’ll do what I can to them and then the song will go to the rest of the band. We all start playing together at that point and put an arrangement together and go try it out in front of the people to see if it floats.”

The band has released four albums in this manner. In 2012, Chris Robinson Brotherhood released their first two albums within three months of each other. The two albums, “Big Moon Ritual” and “The Magic Door,” led to a 118-date tour. In 2014, the band released “Phosphorescent Harvest,” the band’s third studio album.

In 2016, the band released its first self-produced album, “Any Way You Love, We Know How You Feel,” as well as an EP, “If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now.” Both were recorded simultaneously in Northern California and are considered one long record. While each band member has previously worked on producing an album, this was the first album that the band produced together.

“A group of people producing themselves is commonly a recipe for disaster with the old to many cooks in the kitchen motto,” Casal said. “But in the case of this band, producing ourselves actually works really well. That’s because of how experienced everyone in this group is. We’ve all made many records for many years and we’re all at the point where it takes a lot to rattle us and knock us off our horses when it comes to recording and decisions that have to be made. We find that in this group we’re all after the same thing, we have common goals. Everyone is well tuned to what the purpose of the group us. We’ve self-produced these albums and it worked out best, better than anything we’ve ever done.”

With an extensive catalog of original songs and covers in their repertoire, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood is capable of performing unique shows night after night. Their experience and extensive touring schedule makes the band an exciting group to catch live.

“Set lists are different every night,” Casal said. “We take it as each night comes. Every night is different. Every day of your life has some unique quality to it that wasn’t quite like the day before. A lot of things that on the surface seem repetitive or mundane, when you look a couple levels below the mundanity of everyday life, you find that each day brings a detail that the previous one didn’t have. We try to treat our set lists and shows in the same way. Of course there are the songs that we have played for a long time and certain patterns we’ve repeated, but each set list is different is different from the last.”

The band is currently on tour for their newest albums releases. Taking a break from listening to their vinyl on the bus, they will take the stage of Druid City Music Hall tonight at 8:30 p.m. for two full sets.

“On any given night, in any city, on any stage, any venue can host the greatest show of your life,” Casal said. “I’m always open to any place being the best day of my life. You give everyday, and every place, a new chance. You never really know what’s going to happen everyday. There are a few places that we hold dear to our heart, but the way the CRB operates is that everyday could have a chance for the most revelatory, beautiful moment.”

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