I finally met two fans (short for “fanatics”) who define the term. Darryl and his lady told me they have followed The Black Crowes and now The Magpie Salute for the past thirteen years and calculate they have been to over 100 performances including the one this past Monday, September 25th here at the Rogue Theatre. These folks were not bug-eyed, did not drool or twitch; they appeared to be a normal couple who just really love this band in any of its incarnations. Darryl touched my heart when he said that when he was coming of age in the 90’s “there was just no true rock and roll anymore” until he started listening to The Black Crowes. Dude, I’m so sorry you missed Woodstock. I did too, although I was a mere 400 miles away. Still regret not going. Original BC member Rich Robinson led the troupe on this evening with some stellar lead guitar. Robinson’s philosophy must be “a guitar for every song and a song for every guitar”. Darryl’s lady showed me a play list which mapped out 14 guitars for the 20 plus songs Magpie played in a little over two hours, without a break, I might add. This is one hard-working band. If you are a guitar nut you would have been privileged to see Robinson play a gorgeous hollow-bodied Gretch, a variety of Telecasters, a Gibson Les Paul, and an acoustic electric. I’m sure I missed a few. Another former Crowe and also playing lead and whatever else was called for was Marc Ford, a prolific composer and consummate professional. Former BC member Sven Pipien on bass held his own with style and grace. Such a solid player, the kind the rest of the band knows they can count on. According to Darryl, when the insanity of drugs and alcohol started shredding the Crowes in the last decade, Pipien was the one “nobody had issues with. He was good with everybody.” New Magpie members were Joe Magistro on drums and either Michael Bellar on keyboards or Chris…? I thought that’s the name Robinson said on stage and my research could not confirm this. Damn, Darryl would know! Also on guitar was Nico Bereciartua and another guitarist whose name I could not find. Sorry guys but I can certainly say, “Fine job one and all. Hiding almost off stage was Enrique on congas and other percussion instruments. Again, could not confirm a last name. A talented group of backup singers and lovely to look at as well were Charity White, Katrine Ottosen and Adrien Reju. New lead singer straight outta England was John Hogg, an energetic and dramatic vocalist, very stylish in short dreds, vest and hat. His voice seemed strained at times and I think Robinson and Ford have better pipes than Hogg, but I quibble here. The music overall was vibrant, rich, sometimes bold. I didn’t like all but I liked most and loved some. There was variety from hard driving rock to ballads to a folk rock sound a time or two. They did some cover stuff: Little Feet’s “Fat Man in the Bathtub”, for instance, but most material seemed original. What impressed me the most was how professional these birds were and how much thought and effort went into the show. The Magpie Salute left it all on stage on Monday and it didn’t matter that they weren’t playing to a full house. So where were you, Rogue Valley? A musical banquet was served but there were empty seats at the table. Legend has it that if you see a magpie and you want good luck, give a salute. Here’s my salute to those fine feathered new friends of mine.
Please don’t miss Rogue Theatre’s next show this Friday, September 29th when Dave Mason will be in the house. Think of the biggest names in Rock/ Popular music and Mason has been part of their band or has played on their albums. This is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as co-founder of the band Traffic. I hear his voice and his playing are as strong as ever. Clean living, probably. See you there.
Catch you on the flip side…