The Florida Theatre
by Michelle Wilson of Rock Legends Photographers
Jam-band rockers The Magpie Salute cruised into Jacksonville on a cool, crisp Florida day and took over East Forsyth Street with their two mammoth tour buses. Members and road crew were in and out of the buses all afternoon into the evening, which was great fun for fans on the street (this one included). The casual appearance of Rich Robinson chatting outside of his bus in front of the fabulous Florida Theatre was a warm, inviting vision indeed. Following the demise of The Black Crowes in early 2015 after co-founding brothers Rich and Chris Robinson parted ways, Rich moved forward rapidly to assemble a superior lineup of musicians including guitarist Marc Ford, bassist Sven Pipien, keyboardist Eddie Harsch and backup vocalist Charity White, all former Crowes members. (Tragically, Harsch passed away just as The Magpie Salute was starting to take off.) Rounding out the ensemble are guitarist Nico Bereciartua, drummer Joe Magistro, newly added keyboardist Nick Rosen and lead singer John Hogg, who injects his own unique spin into the Chris Robinson sound, as well as backup vocalists Adrien Reju and Katrine Ottosen. With their self-titled debut record dropping earlier this year, the 10-piece collective has been touring steadily and offering a different set list at each show. Digging deep into the BC catalog and also opting for covers as well as material from individual ventures, this group knows how to mix it up and get it done right. What a treat it was to hear Robinson and Ford once again trade tasty licks with their dueling axes.
Kicking it off at 8:15pm with BC tracks "Wiser Time," "By Your Side" and "Let Me Share The Ride," the band played straight through until 10:30. Half of the set's 20 songs were Crowes tunes, mixed in with solo compositions (Robinson's "I Know You" and "Trial and Faith," Ford's "The Vulture" and "Shalimar Dream"). Also thrown into the eclectic blend were covers from various BC albums, including "Don't Know Why" (Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett/Eric Clapton), the trippy instrumental, "Laila, Part II" from German prog rockers, Agitation Free, the hauntingly beautiful Manassas cut, "So Many Times" (Chris Hillman/Stephen Stills), the Pink Floyd nugget, "Fearless" (David Gilmour/Roger Waters) and "Oh! Sweet Nuthin' " (Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground).
"This is our first official Magpie Salute song," Robinson shared, as the combo segued into a blistering version of "Omission," which was recorded initially by Robinson's Hookah Brown, also fronted by Hogg.
Black Crowes standouts "Sister Luck" and "Cursed Diamond" were true gems among all of these pearls, each one flowing seamlessly into the next and showing the successful cohesion of a newly formed super-group void of discord.
"With very little fanfare we've slipped into encore time!" quipped Robinson, while the musicians never left the stage for the customary short exit preceding the encore. After member intros and heartfelt thanks to the techs and road manager, Robinson explained that after months of traveling together and "learning how to be a band, when you let this music affect you it's a great thing." They closed it out in stellar fashion with five Black Crowes choices: "Better When You're Not Alone," "Don't Wake Me," "Jealous Again," "Sometimes Salvation" and "No Speak No Slave."
As is the case with many "new" groups, The Magpie Salute are still getting their feet wet on the tour circuit and eliciting more and more fans along the way. One of the key elements is that Hogg doesn't try to "be" Chris Robinson, which is tantamount to establishing their own musical niche. Expect great things from The Magpie Salute - they have only just begun.
Full gallery of photos from Michelle Wilson and Michael Yanko of Rock Legends Photographers at the link: