Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 3:28 am | Fair 44º


Jeff Moehlis: Chris Robinson’s Hot Buttered Grooves

Black Crowes singer rocks first night of SOhO residency

Around midnight at Santa Barbara’s SOhO Restaurant & Music Club, singer Chris Robinson quipped, “I only thought people down South had time to dance on a Tuesday night.”

Robinson was in Santa Barbara as part of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Well, I should say he was back in Santa Barbara, having performed at the Arlington Theatre just a few months ago in December as part of the Farewell Tour of the Black Crowes, who are now on hiatus.

The Black Crowes seemed a bit of an anachronism when they burst onto the music scene 20 years ago, when hair bands were on the verge of being swallowed up by grunge, and the Crowes being in neither camp. Their sound instead was reminiscent of the Faces, or Exile on Main Street-era Rolling Stones, but with a dose of soulful Southern attitude.

Their first album featured songs such as “Jealous Again,” “She Talks to Angels,” “Twice as Hard” and a smoking cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle.” They went on to release other well-regarded albums over the next two decades, and built a reputation as a solid live act. Time will tell whether The Black Crowes will reunite, but it should be mentioned that this isn’t the first time they have been on hiatus.

In the meantime, Robinson has brought together a superb band, with the amazing Neal Casal on guitar, best known from Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, recent Crowe recruit Adam MacDougall on keyboards, Mark “Muddy” Dutton on bass and George Sluppick on drums.

Not surprisingly, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s sound is Crowe-esque — just the presence of Robinson’s singing guarantees that — but whereas the Crowes echo the Faces and the Stones, the Brotherhood is good-time music in a more Grateful Dead vein.

Indeed, the band did an awesome stretched-out cover of the Dead’s “Mister Charlie.” Other covers included Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” Bob Dylan’s “Tough Mama,” The Everly Brothers’ “So Sad” and the encore Dave Mason song “Shouldn’t Took More Than You Gave.” There was even a Black Crowes cover, “Appaloosa,” from their 2009 album Before the Frost.

The setlist also drew from Robinson’s songs from the first Crowes hiatus, including the concert opener “40 Days,” plus “Eagles on the Highway,” “Sunday Sound” and “Ride.”

But there were also lots of cool new songs that, seemingly like everything else, turned into jams featuring Casal’s — and, yes, Robinson’s — tasteful fretwork. A few of these were performed sporadically by the side project Chris Robinson & the New Earth Mud over the years but never released. The new songs ranged from the riffy instrumental “Hot Buttered Biscuit” that kicked off the second set to the trippy groove of “Girl I Love You,” to the country rock of “Tulsa Yesterday.”

We’re lucky that the Chris Robinson Brotherhood has a residency of sorts at SOhO and will return April 12, April 26, May 10 and May 24. These are all Tuesdays, and I’m guessing that Robinson will find that the dancing at this first show was not an anomaly for Tuesday nights in these parts.


40 Days
Appaloosa (Black Crowes cover)
Star or Stone
Mister Charlie (Grateful Dead cover)
Tomorrow Blues
Girl I Love You
Vibration & Light Suite

Hot Buttered Biscuit
Blue Suede Shoes (Carl Perkins cover)
Eagles on the Highway
Tulsa Yesterday
Tough Mama (Bob Dylan cover) / Beware
Sunday Sound
Star Crossed Lonely Sailor
So Sad (Everly Brothers cover)

Shouldn’t Took More Than You Gave (Dave Mason cover)

Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site,

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