As kids, it seemed a real stretch that the Black Crowes Rich and Chris Robinson could be in the same room together, let alone exist in a world-famous rock band together later on.
It wasnt easy. Not at all. But music, as it is so often, is the salve that can soothe the savage beast. At least for a moment.
If youre stuck in a family with just two brothers, its a pain in the ass, Rich said in a recent interview. We were opposite spokes on a wheel. And the hub is where we both wanted to be. But when we finally meet there, it brings us a lot of joy. Its harmony, literally.
Lucky for us rock fans that the brothers Robinson found that sweet harmony again after years of on again/off again collaboration, mixed with their ongoing sibling strife. On the strength of their latest critically acclaimed CD, Warpaint, and with a renewed camaraderie at least for the time being, the Black Crowes have returned, and reestablished their place as one of Americas most respected rock and roll bands. They bring their Euphoria Or Bust tour to the Filene Center at Wolf Trap on August 3rd.
The Black Crowes storied history, one that began with their multi-platinum album Shake Your Money Maker in 1990, has been filled with major success in a business that spits out bands as quickly as it celebrates them. But this success has always seemed to be intermingled with inner turmoil, often between the brothers Robinson. Rich has said in public before that if we werent playing music together, wed probably never speak to each other.
This inherent family feud was one of several reasons that in 2002, after a string of six successful albums in twelve years, the band embarked on what many thought would be a permanent hiatus. Chris told Rolling Stone that he didnt even know how Rich felt about the split, because they never talked about it. “We didn’t speak for a couple of years. I said, ‘See ya later,’ and that was it. But we don’t talk a lot anyway.”
After they each did some solo work – Chris on the excellent New Earth Mud and This Magnificent Distance CDs, and Rich with some soundtrack work and his own solo effort, Paper the brothers semi-reunited in 2004, playing one of their own tunes at the Jammy awards in New York. Although the ice wasnt entirely melted, it seemed it had softened a bit, at least enough for the Robinsons to consider revving up the Crowes high performance rock and roll engine once again.
But it wouldnt happen overnight. It took Rich and Chris three more years to want to go down Black Crowe Lane again, and after a few false starts, the result was worth the wait. Recorded in three weeks in the summer of 2007, Warpaint has all the feel of a classic Crowes record, and has brought the brothers back together to experience the glory of their heyday. And thankfully for rock fans, they have taken the new record on the road, mixed in with tunes from their classic-rock-sounding past records.
Rock and roll is a better place with the Black Crowes in it. Now if Rich and Chris can only stand each others company long enough to keep the band rolling on for a while longer.