Happiest of Holidays to all my fellow members of this cosmic congregation! I hope the last few days have left your hearts and souls full of love and music. Our 12th excursion into this phosphorescent forest of Sound known as the CRB, takes us to the beautiful Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia. This wonderful show from November 10th of this year (2016), was a favorite of mine right away! And what a highlight of the last few days it’s been, getting to listen to these 2 sets for a seventh and eighth time. I’m going to try and squeeze in another entry in the next day or two as we gear up for our travels up to Terrapin for New Years. So I’ll try to keep this one somewhat brief without turning off the tap of love that flows so freely when I hear this music. So come along and let’s join the Jubilee.
This evening has a special swing and feel from the outset. Right away we can feel CR’s vocal sitting perfectly in the mix. The recording has a soundstage that leaps from the stereo. The Byrds – Lazy Days leads us out of the gate. Tony delivering pinpoint swing while Adam lays some vintage analog synths over the proceedings. “Find your meadow find your way”…Roan County Banjo unfolds like a kaleidoscopic flower, as the band explores its melodic ease with all the shimmy and shake of an elevated afternoon stroll. CR adding some brilliant rhythm flourishes here. The kinetic chemistry the band shows as they power into the haze of Badlands’ acid-americana, changes the feel and pace of the set. “Something wicked has rolled into town.” Listen to Neal’s escalating solo here, and how beautifully Jeff joins, leading him back down into the last verse. This Badlands was a highlight of the date in my notes. It’s heavy feel is lifted instantly as we ascend into Clear Blue Sky. Again getting to paddle out on Neal’s guitar passage. This version, like a lot of them recently, is without the Good Doctor section. But it does have some beautiful liquid layers floating over the endings mellow transition into Sunday Sound. Here is where things really take off…
Before we get too deep into our Anthem let me once again mention how great the sound in this theatre comes across in these tapes. And there’s no better representation than here. Every member can be singled out in the spectrum. And what a luxury to have in a song like Sunday Sound. “Making something out of nothing” and we rocket into our first real jam of the evening. A majestic and mysterious piano solo from The Wizard is the first signal this is going to be a big one. Tony laying in with him like a blue note jazz session gone prog. Some “Stage Fright”-esque movements finally beckon Jeff back for space funk colored bombs before Tony taps us back into the full band for a final swell. CR’s rhythm starts Lizzie Mae and Neal jumps into full Blues lead mode as Jeff and Tony hold down the lower spot. Their foundation is the key to this feel good folk funk groove. They slide right into one of my favorites of this new batch of songs, California Hymn. As good as the studio take is, live it’s just a totally different beast. The pastoral vibe lends itself to endless expansion and tonight it’s doing just that. This Charlottesville one is a standout. Listening loud right now as I write, have you joined me yet? The jam has some bluesy gliding solos by Neal. The band lifts off again near the final 3/4 of the song and I can’t help but close my eyes and smile. Hello L.A Bye Bye Birmingham is a dizzying end to this perfectly played first set that’s almost 3 dimensional at times.
The Cosmic California Music continued with a really cool second set. One of several Rosalee “sandwiches” of the fall. The opening section shows that once again we are poised for some extraterrestrial explorations. New Cannonball is the first layer, as our band delivers a sound reminiscent of THE Band. Levon’s licks ring so true in Tony’s style and it’s so fitting with this group of musicians/brothers. Very proud to have him keeping everyone in time. Neal has that unique tone here and some of his best and most subtle work is done in this song. We gallop along until CR guides us into a gorgeous Topanga colored sun with Eagles On the Highway. Listen to Adam and Neal’s delicate passageway between the two songs. These guys are so locked in right now it’s insane. The feel of Eagles carries over into a scorching riff heavy Forever As The Moon. This revival ready piano intro by Adam always gets the rooms boogie shoes back on tight. The Wizard again signals the train is now speeding dangerously but dancingly down the tracks with Shore Power playing at top volume. Early morning reflections of love, Shadow Cosmos fills the next slot in the set. Just a beautiful song with tender heartfelt cries from CR and Neal’s steel guitar tone matching him ache for ache. We finally have a pause between songs to allow us to gather our collective heads and brace for the heart of this psychedelic sandwich. Tony counts us in and the band bounds into Vibration & Light Suite. A mystic vibe surrounds it from the start as they guard the freak early. So much so that the uninitiated in the Brotherhood may not know what slinky psych journeys lie ahead. The outer space funk can’t be held below for long and the prog pandemonium quickly ensues! The astral ambience takes form in the first big jam of the song, as our Wizard and Neal have a galactic battle in deep space. Jeff and CR sending supporting bursts without tipping their hats or should I say helmets, as to who’s side they are on. Tony the driving engine behind the mothership as it hovers ominously above the whole thing. Ready to vaporize the fleet at any moment. The open spontaneity of the big jam and the subsequent slide into Narcissus is a work of art. I listened back to this section again 3 times just to feel the buzz. The fastest 15 minutes you’ll have all day. The P Funk fueled Narcissus has the extra bounce of a band emerging from a journey, to greetings from a grateful and appreciative ground control. Chimes and bass lines echo off the theater walls and I swear you can feel the building sway in the recording. Neal and CR jazz it up, all the while dodging the Wizards spells. We return to Miss Rosalee for one last golden state dance before exiting for a breather and the encore. If there’s a band doing a better cover of They Love Each Other I’d like to hear it. The guys absolutely slay this song. Listen to the crowds reaction as CR plays those first notes. The CRB does this with more of a Jerry Garcia Band feel than a Dead one and It’s near flawless. Right down to the harmonies. The solo break by Adam and Neal tells everyone they haven’t packed it in for the night just yet. You can hear the band having so much fun, the smiles come right through the speakers and onto you face!
So many shows from this year deserve having some light shown upon them. But you can’t go wrong anyway you choose, especially from this fall tour. This set of songs is a simple click away in the link. Let the brotherhood bridge the gap between your holidays and the coming New Years bash with some fine American Cosmic Rock & Roll! Freak On brothers and sisters!!
Check out our gallery from this night here: https://ravensreelsalmanac.net/catching-dreams/live-on-stage/nggallery/2016/11-10-16—Jefferson-Theater—Charlottesville,-VA
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Roan County Banjo
Badlands Here We Come
Clear Blue Sky
Little Lizzie Mae
Hello L.A. Bye Bye Birmingham
New Cannonball Rag
Eagles On The Highway
Forever As The Moon
Vibration And Light Suite
Narcissus Soaking Wet
They Love Each Other