Friday night, at San Francisco’s, The Fillmore, was night two of the tour, for what is now known as, The Magpie Salute. Those in attendance had the privilege to experience this newest project from acclaimed artist Rich Robinson, formally of (The Black Crowes).  This new endeavor, orchestrated (slightly by accident as they state in their bio), by Rich Robinson, features many other artists from the Black Crowes, including, Marc Ford and Sven Pipien as well as band members Matt Slocum, Joe Magistro, Adrien Reju and Katrine Ottose which have all worked together in past notable projects.

The night was a special one for those fortunate enough to have gotten a ticket, as the band, who have just recently hit the road showcasing this new ten piece powerhouse, have been selling out each and every date.  Once the doors opened, the awaiting room had a calm, electricity to it. Speaking to many guests among the crowd as to how/why they found themselves here this night, the answers tended to be mostly the same, filled with admiration of The Black Crowes, of course of Rich Robinson & singer John Hogg (Moke), and the fact that what they had seen so far of The Magpie Salute, was something new, but also a re-interpretation of some of the best parts they held from The Black Crowes;  this had a swagger, a different pulse, and seemed to be bringing, Blues, Funk and Rock into the forefront of this new ensemble.

While waiting for the night to begin, looking at the empty half-lit stage with the Magpie Salute logo in full view as the backdrop; one couldn’t help to notice that a lone figure of Ganesh sat atop an amp, with incense flowing out of it and into the air.  Speaking to many about theMagpie symbolism, and if there was one; the Magpie just so happens to be a black bird; well sometimes white and sometimes Black and White; the consensus was varied.  Rich in an interview gave this explanation: “The Magpie falls within the Crowe umbrella of species, figuratively and literally. Magpies can be black and white which represents the light and the dark. I figured all of these things touch on many aspects of my life and this experience”.  This ended up being a subject for debate for the hour we waited for the band to show themselves …then the lights lowered.   The ten piece walked onto stage, the lights raised, and John Hogg, (Vocals) began to hit us with his lyrics, “Save Me”, opening up with “Gone” (Black Crowes cover), and the night began.

As this was their second night at SF’s Fillmore; Magpie, as they have done this tour, changed the set list and no one knew what would be coming next; reading into the band’s bio, this seems to be the standard for them.  The second song, “Greasy Grass River” also a Black Crowes cover, brought Rich building the intro, and combining he and John Hogg singing as one.

Magpie’s hit “Omission” was fourth of the night, with Rich coming in heavy on guitar, wearing a white tunic and surrounded by a circle of turquoise around his neck, his custom axe, made of wood surrounded by clear resin; trying my hardest, I couldn’t figure out who made that thing, but the sound was all we needed.  The 5th song of the night was “I’m Free”, (Ford cover); with Marc Ford’s intro as the lead, reminding us of what just an amazing player this man is; the song ending in Marc giving a soulful and heartfelt solo.  Rich soloed on the 6th song of the night, “It’s Not Easy” (Rich Robinson), one of his own, which kept all watching the intricate fingering this man is known for. Joining the band for a great jam was none other than Tower of Power‘s Tom Politzer WHAT A TREAT!

What was witnessed,  was a group of friends, who happened to be seasoned and well-known artists giving tribute to the times of their past, the music living in them at the moment, and a glimpse of the future, of what is now known as Magpie Salute.  All in attendance Saluted the Magpie this night!

Photos: Chris Kentzell

Review: Jen Cash

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