Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

June 29, 2012

Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion
Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA
by Eric Sutter

Performing songs from their current CD, Sarah Lee Guthrie and husband Johnny Irion hit the Colonial stage, in yet another wonderful Berkshire music concert. They strummed acoustic guitars, accompanied by Charlie Rose's stand-up bass to supply sufficient back up, to their beautiful voices that sounded as one at times. "Speed Of Light" and "Seven Sisters," aided by Irion's harmonica added folk and country elements to the sound. "Hurricane Window," written after Katrina, featured especially fancy guitar. The title cut, "Bright Examples" told a tale of an Appalachian trail hiker, which combined a bright melody and vibrant harmony singing. The song had a pop sheen that hit.

Groups like Furthur and Dark Star Orchestra have strived to keep Jerry Garcia's vision alive. In 2011, Chris Robinson Brotherhood began a similar quest and now comes their debut CD, "Big Moon Ritual." It is a new cosmic California sound with roots from the jam band grooves of the Grateful Dead. Robinson rocked tomorrow's blues with a 5-piece rock n roll band which featured Adam MacDougall on keyboards and Neal Casal on lead electric guitar. Robinson handled rhythm guitar, and all sang in four part harmony. In their mellow, melodically driven loose style the group performed "Star Or Stone" and "Tulsa Yesterday" from the CD. The Grateful Dead's "Brown Eyed Woman" was perfect company here. Robinson, et al, interpreted "Blue Suede Shoes" in their different but cool style with keyboard flourishes and the familiar "Go Cat Go!" vocal chant. Casal's slide guitar glided through "Never Been To Spain" and "Rosalee." "Girl On The Mountain" featured a deep blues that mesmerized. Casal's earthy guitar style channelled Garcia in many shades of blue.

Dylan's "Tough Mama" sounded right on with guitar and keyboards interplay challenged to the maximum. The organic "Vibration and Light Suite" received the Grateful Dead treatment with a relaxed but rollicking guitar solo. "Sunday Sound" was a great closer with Robinson's vocal, "Like water underground, we will find our way." MacDougall's syncronized keyboard solo sounded like water swelling up and building momentum as it flowed. The music bended, accelerated and crescendoed until it eventually descended. Casal's white hot warm guitar lines were interwoven between Robinson's vocals and the laid-back mellow groove of the rhythm section. As for the audience... imagine dancing bears everywhere!