Since announcing the end of the Black Crowes almost exactly two years ago, Rich Robinson has been flying high. Releasing a new album, filling in on guitar for Bad Company, and touring with the eponymous Rich Robinson Band kept him busy for the first year before he decided to reunite with one-time Crowes guitarist Marc Ford to form The Magpie Salute. A sprawling 10-member band that also includes ex-Crowes bassist Sven Pipien along with Rich Robinson Band drummer Joe Magistro and guitarist Nico Bereciartua, the Magpies held their coming-out party in New York this past January before embarking on a European tour to fine-tune their stagecraft. Upon returning to the U.S., they launched a 60-show tour that began in July and culminated in New York, November 15 and 16, at Irving Plaza.
With three guitarists, the Magpies play loud and hard, drawing on their Black Crowes ancestry as well as the Crowes’ tradition of well-chosen covers. Their opening night at Irving Plaza kicked things off with a string of Crowes standards—“Sting Me”, “Greasy Grass River”, and “Exit”—before settling into “Omission” from The Magpie Salute’s debut album. There were covers of Gram Parsons (“She”) and the Flying Burrito Brothers (“Christine’s Tune” and “Hot Burrito #2”). The band also worked in tunes from the solo albums of Robinson and Ford before getting back to familiar territory with more Crowes: “Title Song”, “Don’t Wake Me,” “Horsehead”, and “Sometimes Salvation.”
It’s rare for a band as guitar-driven as the Magpie Salute to include a full complement of vocalists to deliver a more balanced sound, but John Hogg adds an energetic reggae influence supported by a trio of backup singers (Charity White, Adrien Reju, and Katrine Ottosen). On a sad note, original Magpie keyboardist Eddie Harsch, another Crowes alum, passed away shortly after the release of the Magpie album and has been replaced by Michael Bellar.
The younger of the Robinson brothers, Rich was at times overshadowed by frontman Chris but now seems comfortable in a lead role with the Magpie Salute. Rich is a first-rate guitarist who has surrounded himself with a talented entourage to build upon the legacy of the Black Crowes and break new ground. The band will be releasing a live album with highlights from their year-long tour before getting back into the studio and out on the road to keep the momentum going.
You can check out photos from The Magpie Salute’s performance on November 15th at Irving Plaza below, courtesy of the author.
Watch full video of The Magpie Salute’s 11/15 Irving Plaza show below, via taper Steve Hagar:
Watch full video of The Magpie Salute’s 11/16 Irving Plaza show below, via taper Steve Hagar: