For our 18th entry into the Ravens Reels Almanac we shine the boogie beam back on the Fall 2014 tour. Fayetteville, Arkansas (10/16/2014) was the scene of some true CRB magic! This Thursday night at George’s Majestic has one of my favorite sequences of all time buried deep in the second set. And along the way there’s some absolutely stellar songs and moments littering the musical landscape. You’re going to want this one, so get the jump and hit the link now, then come back and try some rock and roll!!
They warm up the crowd with Bobby Mitchell’s invitational classic to Try Rock & Roll and quickly Jump the Turnstiles. Neal comes barreling forward with some great leads, heating up that beautiful Scott Walker custom. Maybe I read too far into song placement and setlists but who cares, that makes it that much more fun right? One of those groupings that seems to tell a little story within a show appears. They begin with the “Sweet Shuffle” of Badlands and move through all the outlaws and treacherous terrain of the song. Swept along in the emotional winds of CR’s rhythm and vocal right into Tornado. A powerful rendition that gives our Wizard of CRB Oz his first opportunity to step forward and propel the proceedings. CR gives a little insight into the songs meaning at the end before the second weather related song in a row 100 Days of Rain. Again, Adam with some beautiful keys that shimmer like rain soaked asphalt in the sun as we make our way back from the ominous feel of the previous choices. Neal’s solo circling like a desert hawk with a reserved precision, waiting for the perfect time to dive and soar. Wheel Don’t Roll serves as a truck stop rest area for the weary travelers emerging from the badlands of the desert, tornados and rain. A final stop before finding their way back to the Freak California sun and sounds of a pulsing Shore Power. Usually that would end the set but instead we get one of the biggest and best takes of Poor Elijah on tape. Over 15 minutes long this one is a masterclass in rock and roll. Once it gets going it takes awhile for them to slow it down. Mr Casal turns in some Mr B’s glass melting slide work that helps this thing pick up speed and it just keep tearing along. When it reaches critical mass, listen how softly they bring it back down for the full vocal harmony at the end. The CRB have always been able to dance this tightrope of nuance and it makes songs like this just revelations when they unfold. A great way to end a set deep in the southern delta.
“Please direct your attention to Mr Adam MacDougall, he’s ummm, he’s right THERE!” CR instructs the congregation to focus on our killer on the keys and his piano intro to the black water churring Beggars Moon. We climb that bass line ladder past it’s lunar delights and land on a really big Star Or Stone. Leaving a lot of room between notes for everyone to do some cool and unique things. You can tell they are turning everyone’s heads on in preparation for the interplanetary explorations to come. It all begins with a massive 16 minute Tulsa, the first real sign that the band is about to push things as far as they possibly can. Starting with an eerie organ intro from Adam with Neal standing on his pedals as they alternate brush strokes. This is just an amazing version, one that deserves 5 full stars in your notes or playlist. They roll through a spirited version of Dylan’s Hard Rains Gonna Fall that has a nice deep low end and CR really getting into the verses, acting as a breather before the insanity ensues. Meanwhile In The Gods takes it’s time getting going, with a very laid back stroll to start, but slowly you can hear and feel it building momentum. CR strumming away while Neal darts and weaves through his soundscapes. Eventually crystal lasers begin to fire through clouds of smoke and dust, bouncing off stars like galactic pinball. A big jam forms and it’s hold on and have fun territory. Suddenly you start to hear a familiar rhythmic chug from the guitars. Baa> Baa> Baada> Baa> Baa> Baada> Baa> Baa> Baada> Baaaaaaaa…….. they start to tease the Grateful Dead classic “The Other One”! But they don’t just flirt with it, the entire band picks it up and they take off into a 5 minute The Other One JAM!!! It is AMAZING, and they do some really cool stuff around the main riff as well. If you’re a fan enough to read these ramblings you truly must hear this. Just another reason I love this band. As powerful as this energetic set has become they are still able, with the flick of a switch or finger, move from the driving fury of that Tulsa>TOO Jam into the delicate beauty of Tumbleweed In Eden. But even still, the explorations don’t stop as they push this song well past the 10 minute mark. Visiting all the imagery and atmosphere included, eventually landing back into another BIG jam. As you can tell this show/set is totally out of hand but they once again transition flawlessly into the Phosphorescent favorite Burn Slow. The reverb and passages from Neal and Adam are gorgeous. The song, a spacey come down vehicle as our cosmonauts splash down in the California traffic of our Hallucination Nations anthem, Sunday Sound. They gather all the energy and vibes the set has created to deliver one last cosmic concoction for the Thursday night crowd. One final blazing jam brings the set to a close. John Lee Hooker’s 1966 soulful blues burn Serves Me Right To Suffer falls in the encore slot and is a really nice way to finish off this fantastic show.
There are so many gems like this hidden in the bands archives. With little jams and teases that always seem to signal that they are feeling good and that intangible magic is happening. The is a BIG jam heavy show, one that you absolutely need if you prefer your CRB with a heavy spoonful of exploration and improv. Once again proving that no matter if they are in the middle of a three night run at the Fillmore or at a small little theatre in the south on a weeknight, this band NEVER packs it in and NEVER disappoints. Click the link and grab this one now! And then give somebody a hug and spread some love tonight, we are all going to take care of each other in the end. Freak On brothers and sisters!
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Try Rock N Roll
Jump The Turnstile
Badlands Here We Come
100 Days Of Rain
If Your Wheel Don’t Roll
Star Or Stone
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall Meanwhile In The Gods
Tumbleweed In Eden
Serves Me Right To Suffer