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Author Topic: RICH ROBINSON (The Black Crowes) // BRUDENELL, LEEDS // Sat 11th Feb  (Read 6585 times)

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    • Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Saturday 11th February

(The Black Crowes)

plus support from
Dave O'Grady


Socrates said that a life unexamined was not worth living, but sometimes life is going so well that you could forgive one for just going with the flow. But life will catch up with you in time, as it did for Rich Robinson. Before he was 25, he had fame as the guitar player for the Black Crowes, fortune, a beautiful wife and home; seemingly, he had it all. But in the blink of an eye, much of it was gone. How he managed to make it through with graciousness and his sense of self-intact is examined on his new solo album, Through A Crooked Sun.

“The sun was a fitting metaphor to examine my life, because in many ways what was going on both nourished me and blinded me at the same time,” says Rich. “I was living this life that was askew. My relationships with the people that were supposed to be my closest seemed damaged. My marriage was not a good fit for either of us and we weren’t facing up to that. Though I love my brother, the fact that my working environment can be challenging has been well chronicled. Nothing was working like it should have been, but by many people’s standards, it was a dream come true.” It would take an unexpected (at least by Rich) band hiatus, financial difficulties and most devastating of all, a painful divorce to push him to the point of re-evaluation.

“Hey Fear,” the lead single from the album, looks at fear’s dual nature. “Fear can be a healthy, natural, protective response to your environment, but it can also be debilitating,” says Rich. “In many ways, continuing the unhappy life that I was leading was a response to the fear of what lay beyond it.” The song recognizes that, though fear will remain a part of one’s everyday life (“Hey there fear/You’ve been there for me/A familiar voice/In a raging sea”), it cannot be dispatched by flailing away at it, but by embracing a quiet mind and a more simple life. “I wanted this song to be sparse to represent simplicity, and then add in the more frenetic production at the end to represent the onset of fear,” Rich says.

“Bye Bye Baby” addresses what Rich refers to as his life lived backwards. “I had everything people work hard for at age 20, and now in my early 40’s, in a lot of ways, I’m starting over, like someone in their early 20’s.” The song features evocative imagery as metaphor for the past experiences of his life. A falling curtain and two birds falling from the sky are juxtaposed with the very direct question, “Is this world done with me?” “I didn’t mean for that question to be negative, but really more of a question of whether the life that I’ve led is over and wondering if that’s all there is to it. More of a question and a gentle letting go than anything,” says Rich.

The Black Crowes are still a vibrant, relevant entity, an experience he shares with his longtime bandmates, including his brother Chris. To refresh their individual energies, the band has gone on more frequent hiatuses, which has allowed Rich to explore musical ideas that might not fit the band dynamic, and also continue to hone his skills as a terrific visual artist (www.richrobinsonart.com). “The most exciting thing for me in doing my own album is that a lot of the things that I want to express lyrically, which are very personal, may not have space to be expressed in the band format,” says Rich.

“Gone Away” uses a hooky call and response between Rich and his psyche to chronicle his own burgeoning spirituality in light of changing circumstances (“I fell the distance of the deepest canyon drop/ That’s how you bleed, sir/It took me years to climb back to the top/ That’s what you need, sir”). His sense of spirituality has made him more aware of a growing collective consciousness that has come out of the recent difficult times that rejects the shallow, and Rich sees that as a very positive thing (“I feel it coming to take us to a new world”). The production on the song features twinned guitar parts to match the dual vocals, and the result is a joyous welcoming of new ways.

The subject of consumerism is addressed on “It’s Not Easy,” a song about how the pursuit of material things can desensitize us, how we often use it to fill in emptiness in our lives, so that we feel something, however temporary that sensation is. “I’m not judging; I’ve been there, but I think it is something that we need to be more aware of” he says. This consciousness about the limitations of materialism and a growing political awareness have led him to participate in interesting projects with those that he has found common cause with, most prominently contributing music to The People Speak, the Howard Zinn film project.

Finally, family is very much at the center of Rich’s worldview. He has recently remarried and they have welcomed a new son to the family (with another on the way). “She has been very good for me, and we really do think very similarly about things. Thinking about my three, soon to be four children really does make me think about the kind of world that I want to create around myself, what kinds of values I want to raise them around. And I’m more aware than ever that we create our own entrapments as well as our own bliss.” Thinking about family has also caused Rich to look the other way down his family tree toward his father in particular, who has been struggling to maintain good health. “Follow You Forever” is a song to him. “Things look better than they did a few months ago, and this song came from starting the grieving process,” Rich says.

Through A Crooked Sun finds the musical gifts that have propelled a major career fully intact, but joined this time by a more sentient, holistic outlook: that of a father, a son, a husband, a spiritual being, a musician, fully integrated and more comfortable than ever in his body, mind and soul.

Doors 7:30pm


Tickets £13 advance
Available: Jumbo | Crash | Wegottickets | Ticketweb
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