A few weeks ago, I received a phone call that was totally out of the blue and took me by such surprise that I’m still trying to process that it really happened. “Hello George. This is Chris Robinson.” Those of you in the know, will understand my excitement cause this dude not only has one of the best voices in rock-n-roll as the Black Crowes frontman, but he can have his pick of just about any drummer he wants. Since the Crowes’ are going on a hiatus, the fact that he called me tells me that (whatever it is he’s got up his sleeve) he’s either exhausted himself trying to find the right person in his own city, or that he wants to go in a completely different direction. Whatever the reason, I was elated and honored to speak with him and couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say.
He informed me that our mutual friend, Crowes’ guitarist and local hero, Luther Dickinson, had recently given him a copy of my trio’s latest release on vinyl, to which he was totally floored by and asked if I wouldn’t mind coming out to LA for what he referred to as a “jam session”. The Crowes’ would be taking a bit of a break and he wanted to showcase his latest endeavor, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Are you kidding me? Hell yes, I said and so the ball was immediately set in motion. He didn’t want me to learn anything from his extensive catalog and rather preferred that we just get together and see what transpired between us musically. How effin cool is that? The flight was booked and all I had to do was wait.
Fast forward to this past weekend, I’m gearing up for this big audition and one of the craziest 24 hour periods I’ve ever had. Thursday night The City Champs opened for the legendary Huey Lewis and the News to roughly one thousand peeps at our newest local hot spot, Minglewood Hall…it was a rousing show and thanks to our good friend and brilliant photog, Josh Mintz, you may view the visual results of our performance here. We had an amazing time and could not have been more humbled at the reception from Huey, his band, the crew, the venue staff and the beautiful Memphians who came out in support. There was a decent little after party giong on backstage, but yours truly had an early flight to catch and needed sleep something awful. Sadly, I had to bail. Unfortunately, with so much excitement on my mind, there was no way to get a good nights rest, so I just went ahead and got myself together around 5:30 AM and headed over to the airport.
Once I made it to LA, everything suddenly went into fast motion. CR’s personal assistant and Brotherhood tour manager, Brian, picked me up, took me to my hotel where we checked in real fast, then stopped at a great Mexican restaurant for a quick lunch (which I immediately threw up, due to an upset stomach, terrible migraine and case of the “nerves”…the total trifecta!) then onto the rehearsal space. We got there around 1:30, I sat up the drums they’d brought for me (gorgeous 70’s Slingerland’s, 22, 13 & 16) along with some nice Agop pies and a 1930’s Ludwig nickel over brass snare drum that was total money. Chris showed up half an hour later, band in tow and after some initial greetings, plugged in his guitar and we commenced to getting our groove on.
Roughly four hours and many new songs later, a smiling Chris Robinson told me that if I didn’t mind getting in a van with him and the other cats, he would be happy to have me on board. Damn. That was it. We shook hands to seal the deal and within 90 mins, it was as if all of Los Angeles County had been notified about this development, as my phone started to blow up with phone calls, texts and emails from friends of mine offering congratulations. I said to myself, holy shit, word travels fast out here. Well, that’s how it goes sometimes and this looks like it’s gonna be a great opportunity to play with another really amazing group of musicians. How lucky I feel right now. I’m gonna need to take Luther D out for drinks or something to say thank you. We’ll be hitting the road in late March and you can view the tour schedule here. Stay tuned!