music / Columns

Jam Central Station 1.26.12 – The Black Crowes

January 26, 2013 | Posted by Knight-of-God


Hey all! Happy weekend to ya. I’m getting ready to head into the studio on Sunday for an epic recording session. Hope that I have my stamina up. Anyways, let’s get on with this week’s column!


It’s pretty unbelieveable that the Black Crowes, one of the quintessential classic blues-based rock bands, isn’t really classic rock at all. The band got their start right around the same time that many grunge heavyweights were getting started. The band released their first album in 1990. They’re truly one of the greatest rock bands to come out since the 90’s, and probably the most successful rock band that stayed in the classic rock style of ZZ Top, Clapton, and the Rolling Stones. They’ve had mass appeal and, despite a few roadblocks, have maintained a solid following for over two decades. While trends have changed and musical movements have come and gone, The Black Crowes have continued to move forward as one of rock’s finest.

The band got their start in the mid-80’s, with brothers Chris and Rich Robinson serving as the core of early incarnations of the band. The band truly came together in 1989 with Johnny Colt on bass and Jeff Cease on guitar. Georgia was a musical hotbed at the time, and The Black Crowes were able to sign a record deal and quickly release their first album. The Robinson brothers had been honing their sound over the years, and they found themselves emulating the classic rock sound of The Faces and similar early rock bands. Their 1990 debut, Shake Your Money Maker was an obvious tribute to the music that the Robinson brothers grew up with and loved.

The album struck all of the right chords with listeners and was a huge success. They had numerous hit singles, and songs like “She Talks To Angels,” “Jealous Again,” and “Hard to Handle” have become rock radio staples. The band toured on the album, and they also generated their fair share of controversy. While the tension between the Richardson brothers hadn’t come to a head at this point, the band did get kicked off of a tour with ZZ Top after bashing the tour sponsor, Miller beer, on stage. The band instead toured on their own, filling venues and touring across the globe.

The band followed up the release with The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion in 1992. They had switched guitarists by this point, with Cease leaving the band and Marc Ford coming aboard. The album also featured Chuck Leavell from the Allman Brothers on keyboards, so the band brought in Eddie Harsch as their permanent keyboard player. The album was just as successful as the debut, with four hit singles and solid sales and a tour to follow. This was one of the high points of the band, with a steady lineup and tremendous success both in sales and on the road.

Their third album Amorica generated controversy even before being released. The album cover featured a woman in a bikini bottom with hair sticking out. Many retailers refused to sell the album with the cover, forcing an alternate cover to be released. The album was released in the midst of the grunge revolution, meaning that the classic rock style of The Black Crowes wasn’t the force that it had been a few years prior. While the album wasn’t a failure, it certainly wasn’t the huge success of their first two albums. On the other hand, the band was able to grow a solid and diverse fanbase around music lovers that had more respect for The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, or The Who than the more current trends. This led to the band continuing to find success on the road, and their diverse live performances kept their fans coming back for more.

Three Snakes and One Charm was released in 1996, and was the final album to feature the band’s “classic” lineup. Sales were decent and the album wasn’t a massive critical success (although it was far from a critical failure), and the band continued to find their home on the road. They toured with the Furthur Festival, featuring many Grateful Dead alumni, but discord began to become evident. The band parted ways with Ford and Colt, resulting in a bit of a rotating cast of guitarists and bassists that has continued to this day.

The band explored their soulful side on “By Your Side,” an album that was more stripped down than their previous two releases. This garnered significant critical acclaim, despite album sales only being mediocre. They did shows with Jimmy Page joining the band and toured with The Who. Their follow up album, Lions failed to garner as much support, but the “Tour of Brotherly Love” with Oasis (featuring two bands known to have family issues) was a success.

Unfortunately, the tension in the band became too much to bear, and drummer Steve Gorman announced that he was leaving the band. Shortly after the announcement, The Black Crowes announced an indefinite “hiatus.” Both brothers released solo albums with little success, although their live shows were well attended by Black Crowes fans. During interviews, neither brother showed much desire to bring the group back together, and each seemed to be enjoying their time away. After 4 years away, the band finally came back together in 2005 with a lineup that included the Richardsons, Gorman (who was brought back after a few shows with a different drummer), Sven Pipien on bass, Eddie Harsch on keys, and Marc Ford back in the band on guitar.

The band toured but took time before heading back into the studio. Ford and Harsch both left the band, but they were able to find solid replacements. Despite having songs in the bag after live performances, the album consisted almost entirely of new material that hadn’t been played live. Warpaint debuted at #5, although it didn’t have any major radio hits. Before the Frost was released in 2009 and included a companion download-only album Until the Freeze. The album produced the moderately successful single “I Ain’t Hidin'” and another solid tour. However, in 2010, the band again stated that they were taking a hiatus, although the animosity of the first hiatus didn’t appear to be present.

The band recently announced that they were coming back together for a 2013 tour, a run that will likely include a new album. The Black Crowes have been able to use their family tension to create some phenomenal music, and they appear to have gained enough maturity to be able to balance their band and personal relationships, and they’ve been able to take time and release their own music. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them tour and record for the next few years before taking more time off. Whatever the band chooses to do, they are obviously one of the strongest and most influential of new wave of “classic” rock.


Coachella announces lineup
Coachella announced their 2013 lineup, and it’s stacked with plenty of the best indie rock. The event will be headlined by the Stone Roses, Blur, Phoenix, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Also appearing will be Lou Reed, The Lumineers, Bassnectar, Wu-Tang Clan, How To Destroy Angels, Portugal The Man, Sigur Ros, and dozens of other acts.

Wanee lineup out
The Wanee Music Festival announced their lineup this week. The Allman Brothers and Widespread Panic will be headlining the festival. Also on the bill are Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, and many others.

Camp Bisco announced
Camp Bisco will be back at the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, NY, from July 11-13. The Disco Biscuits will headline 3 nights. Other artists will be announced soon.

Dispatch announces dates
Dispatch announced a handful of 2013 summer dates. Their only announced festivals are Mountain Jam and Wakarusa, and they have a few dates scattered around the country. No word if we’ll be getting more.

May 29 Nashville, TN—Ryman Auditorium
May 30-June 2 Ozark, AK—Wakarusa Music Festival
May 30 Birmingham, AL—Sloss Furnace
June 1 Chicago, IL—Chatrer One Pavilion
June 6-9 Hunter, NY—Mountain Jam Festival
June 8 Mansfield, MA—Great Woods
June 9 Berkeley, CA—Greek Theatre


Panic En La Playa Dos
January 27-31, 2013
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This event will be the return of Widespread Panic to the stage after a year-long hiatus. Tickets go on sale August 24.

Jam in the Sand
March 1-5, 2013
Breezes Grand Resort
Negril, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra’s first Jamaican event. This event will feature multiple DSO shows as well as three Keller Williams sets and other activities

Buku Music Project
March 8-9, 2013
Mardi Gras World Warehouse
New Orleans, LA
Performers include: Kid Cudi, Calvin Harris, Primus, Passion Pit, STS9, Zedd, Major Lazer, Big Gigantic, Datsik, Lettuce, and many others

SnowBall Music Festival
March 8-10, 2012
Winter Park, CO
Performers include:Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Portugal. The Man, Rubblebucket, and many others.

Suwannee Springfest
March 21-24, 2013
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Peter Rowan, Keller and the Keels, Jerry Douglas, Cornmeal, Leftover Salmon, Donna the Buffalo, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, Elephant Revival, and many others.

Ultra Music Festival
March 15-17, 2013
March 22-24, 2013
Miami, FL
Performers include: Tiesto, David Guetta, Above & Beyond, Bassnectar, Fatboy Slim, Richie Hawtin, Crystal Castles, deadmau5, Major Lazer, Thievery Corporation, and many others.

March 21-24, 2012
Killington Resort
Killington, VT

April 12-14, 2013
April 19-21, 2013
Performers include: Stone Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blur, Phoenix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bassnectar, xx, Modest Mouse, Lou Reed, Postal Service, Grizzley Bear, Wu-Tang Clan, Lumineers, and many others.

Wanee Festival
April 18-20, 2013
Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, and many others.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
April 26-May 5, 2013
New Orleans, LA
Performers include: Dave Matthews Band, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Widespread Panic, B.B. King, The Black Keys, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Maroon 5, and a very diverse lineup of many other artists.

Hangout Music Festival
May 17-19, 2013
Gulf Shores, AL

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-36
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
Performers include: moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Trey Anastasio Band, The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain String Band, Thievery Corp., Big Gigantic, Lettuce, Cornmeal, Keller Williams, and many others.

May 23-26, 2013
Cumberland, MD

May 30-June 2, 2013
Mulberry Mountain
Ozark, AR
Performers include: Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band, STS9, The Black Crowes, Umphrey’s McGee, Dispatch, Shpongle, Snoop Lion, Gogol Bordello, Zed’s Dead, Rebolution, and many others.

Mountain Jam
June 6-9, 2013
Hunter Mountain, NY
Performers include: Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic, Primus, The Avett Brothers, Dispatch, Gary Clark Jr., Soulive, ALO, and many others.

Governors Ball Music Festival
June 7-9, 2013
Randall’s Island
New York City, NY

Camp Railroad
June 10-14, 2012
Full Moon resort
Big Indian, NY
This 4-day music camp will feature members of Railroad Earth in an assortment of workshops, performances, discussions and other sessions to help aspiring musicians and those interested in the music industry to gain an insight into the inner workings of the band. A variety of accommodations are available, and musicians of all skill levels are accepted.
June 13-16
Manchester, TN

Telluride Bluegrass Festival
June 20-23
Telluride, Colorado
Performers include: Sam Bush Band, Jackson Brown, Emmylou Harris 7 Rodney Crowell, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, Jerry Douglas Band, Punch Brothers, Trampled by Turtles, Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival, and many others.

Solid Sound Festival
June 21-23, 2013
Museum of Contemporary Art
North Adams, MA
Hosted by Wilco

Electric Forest Festival
June 27-30, 2013
Double JJ Ranch and Resort
Rothbury, MI

High Sierra Music Festival
July 4-7, 2013
Quincy, CA

Camp Bisco
July 11-13, 2013
Indian Lookout Country Club
Mariaville, NY

All Good Music Festival
July 18-21, 2013
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH

Northwest String Summit
July 18-21, 2013
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR

Pitchfork Music Festival
July 19-21, 2013
Union Park
Chicago, IL

Floyd Fest
July 25-28, 2013
Floyd, VA
Performers include: The Lumineers, John Butler Trio, Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Trampled by Turtles, Blitzen Trapper, and many others.

Gathering of the Vibes
July 25-28, 2013
Seaside Park
Bridgeport, CT

Newport Folk Festival
July 27-28, 2013
Newport, RI

Newport Jazz Festival
August 2-4, 2013
Newport, RI

August 9-11, 2013
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

Outside Lands
August 9-11
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA

Catskill Chill
September 6-8, 2013
Camp Minglewood
Hancock, NY

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
October 4-6, 2013
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA

Austin City Limits
October 4-6, 2013
October 11-13, 2013


As always, thanks for hanging out. Be sure to check out more Jam on Facebook and Twitter. Until next week, Jam On!


article topics


Comments are closed.