“Everything has got to be right, it’s Sat…ur…day NIGHT!!” Right? And ahhhh was it. Greetings to all my fellow Freak Farmers. Whether the cold winds have blown you home, or forever may you roam, I hope this entry finds you surrounded by love and light on this winters eve. We are warming up some Southern California genuine edition rock and roll for you. From April 23rd, 2016. In the hobo haven of Santa Ana, California. The Observatory was in orbit on this late Spring Saturday night. A transitional period for our prophets of the patterned prose, as we had waved goodbye to our low end placeholder Muddy. And our new era’s foundation Jeff, was still a few shows from gracing that spot stage left. But the music was in good hands during the stretch, as our good friend and monster of the four on the floor, George Reiff, was keeping the thunder at our door.
The Tony Joe White southern celebrated, Saturday Night In Oak Grove Louisiana (aka Santa Ana) gets us out of the gate quickly, as it so often does when the calendar calls. “Cause when you look good, then you feel good”. And both of those things were sure happening on this evening. CR thanks the crowd for “coming out man” and we leap into one of my all time favorite renditions of Roan County Banjo. Neal makes his first big appearance here as he and Adam feed off each other and the crowd. Our Astronaut on the black and whites starts firing his lasers near the end of this very jammed Roan’. CR keeps his rhythm warm and they take us into Badlands. Recognizable from the first note, the crowd engages and embraces the darker tone of this one. “Sometimes you leave the sunshine and sometimes it leaves you”, but things aren’t dark for long. We surface into one of my favorite Dylan songs from what, depending on when you ask, may be my favorite Dylan album, Nashville Skyline. The first song Bob recorded for the album is in the CRB “wheelhouse” so to speak. “They say the night time is the right time”, and by the sound of the joyous roars and calls from the crowd, the time is oh so right.
Neal’s custom never sounded better and he and Adam again go around each other in a musical match for the gathered. CR giving the vocal and his chugging rhythm his all and we start to find ourselves in a boogie woogie whoopin’. “Arrive and enter, awake and believe”. Tony and George are the all stars here and lead the charge. Both high in the sound mix and man is it solid. We slow down for some Southern Soul, Jackie Moore style. With her 1970 golden hit, Precious Precious. Slow and low for sho’….”I ain’t satisfied with looooving you”. Man, another song the guys just make their own almost nightly. A song that I always perk up and look forward to is next. We all “find time to mention the other dimension” and tumble in rhythm through a wonderful Meanwhile In the Gods. We should all start a tradition and “stand and cheer throwing flowers on the stage”. 😉 Adam and Neal shine syncopated lights and lead us into the jam sequence of this vehicle. And this one is a NASA Rover type search and report. Neal jumps first and CR follows as Tony rides that bell and then we crest a ridge and he drops into one of the funkiest beats you’ll find on any musical chart. One by now that is seared into our soul. “Harmony and a heartbeat rhythm let your cup overflow again”…..They carry us right into one of my go-to Cali Hymns. Studio clean in every way, but at the same time, with enough Califreakfornia cool to make it the perfect close to a near perfect set. The crowd is in agreement as they shout and even scream their praise.
We didn’t cool down at the break and neither did the band. “Don’t know about the next but the first trip is free”. The stomp of Leave My Guitar Alone proves we are indeed “thrown’ a bash” in California tonight. CR is in great spirits as always and we “watch the starboard child” groove and shake in that old familiar way. The song drives us to Bring It All Back Home, and we approach our second Dylan cover of the evening, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue. George Reiff just lays down a bass performance here that must be heard. Your subs may need some soothing after, but well worth it. The crowd is locked in and going wild. You can tell both audience and band are aware at this point that a special show is well underway. I now present you, Mr Neal Casal. “Between love and hope and money, there’s loss and pain and honey” and we take our spoonful of Neal’s velveteen solos that come and go and return to lift us higher and higher and push us further until we “Awake” as “the sleeper said and sing a new song”. And that new one is Hard But Fair. Like a “Strung Out Angel” on her “Dirty Trip” we find salvation and redemption in this new classic.
Then the “untethered” and “unbound” cautionary tale and centerpiece of the guys new album, Narcissus Soaking Wet, has everyone from the front row to the bar backs moving. We are deep into the heart of this heavy second set with “thunder born in lighting ways natural magic mystic ways” as the band conjures that cosmic control and shifts onto that Santa Ana Freeway with Ain’t Hiding. We can’t find the door so we ain’t leaving this dance floor. At just under 9 minutes this version hints that we are headed into some major funk and it arrives designed and disguised as, wait…..who do I see? Why it’s Miss Rosalee!!! At least for the first 10 minutes. YES this is a BIG ONE! And just when we are settling into the end of the evening with our Little Country Thing, “on a cloud of sound” we “shift into the night”. And yes “any place it’s goes IS right”. We are snatched into this Steppenwolf classic on a Magic Carpet Ride. Another cover seemingly made for our smile slingers. Neal doing a mighty fine Michael Monarch, but making the song his very own sun-soaked psychedelic scene. Just as we are running out of cosmos and air, we get called back by our sweet Rosalee as she asks us that question. I think we know whether the air is getting thinner. Could be we are getting high?
What a closer…What a set….what a SHOW!!!!!? But before they send us off into that golden shored summer, we get one of the best and most welcome covers in the mix today. Stop That Train. A song that has had quite the journey to us on this fine evening. From its origins as a ska hit for The Spanishtonians. To the Jamaican rocksteady band Keith and Tex. The famous version from the Reggae Rasta Master, Bob Marley. And my personal favorite and where I hear it most, the Jerry Garcia Band versions of the 70’s and 80’s. No doubt a whole new and righteous generation will discover the power of this song through our very own CRB.
California will always be home for our self described Bliss Merchants. And they seem to always add a little extra pinch or ten of Freak Dust to the recipe when they cook up some sounds out here. And just so you know, they are doing that very thing all this month. So let Santa bring you an early gift for the head and heart and go see a show!! By the ticket. Take the ride. But first hit the link to grab this amazing capture by our winged wonders on the board. And let the CRB set you free!!
Freak On brothers and sisters!
Check out our gallery of this show here: https://ravensreelsalmanac.net/catching-dreams/live-on-stage/nggallery/2016/4-23-16—The-Observatory—Santa-Ana,-CA
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Santa Anna, California
Saturday Night In Oak Grove, LA Roan County Banjo
Badlands Here We Come
To Be Alone With You
Oak Apple Day
Meanwhile In The Gods
Leave My Guitar Alone
Forever As The Moon
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
Star Or Stone
Ain’t It Hard But Fair
Narcissus Soaking Wet
I Ain’t Hiding
Stop That Train