Review and photos by Gus Griesinger
The second show of the summer at the Star Lake Pavilion in Burgettstown, PA, was held this past Wednesday. It was a double bill with the Black Crowes and up-and-comers Dirty Honey.
Before the pandemic took flight in March of 2020, one of the biggest concert announcements that was made in 2020 was the reunion of the Robinson brothers (Chris and Rich) to form a new version of the Black Crowes. Many fans were chomping at the bit to see The Black Crowes, but as we all know, everything was shelved until at least 2021 (or in some cases for some bands, 2022). The Black Crowes rescheduled their dates, and this was the fifth show. For the tour, the Robinsons enlisted Isaiah Mitchell on guitars, Raj Ojha on drums, Joel Robinow on keyboards and Sven Pipien, who has been in the band previously, on bass. They also had two backup singers to round out the group.
The Black Crowes took to the stage with an old saloon style backdrop. They had a real bartender serve up some drinks to a few of the backing members before they took to the stage. The ambience also included dimmed yellow lighting coming from the light truss and other things you would imagine walking into an old bar or saloon. As the original version of “Shake Your Money Maker” by Elmore James blared from the loudspeakers, the band then proceeded to take to the stage. Vocalist Chris Robinson sat in front of the drumkit hidden behind an umbrella as his brother and Mitchell strummed the first few chords of “Twice as Hard.” When Pipien and Ojha kicked into the rhythm section, Robinson got up from behind the umbrella and walked around the stage holding it up over his head as he made his way to his microphone. This drew a loud ovation and got the crowd excited.
The band proceeded to play the first album Shake Your Money Maker in its entirety. We knew we were in for a great night when Chris Robinson held a few notes on “Sister Luck.” He has lost nothing on his vocals and that carried throughout the entire performance. The brothers also came together to sing a little during the same song ("Sister Luck”).
Chris Robinson went into the history of the band playing there for the first time as he said, "I remember singing the next song for the first time anywhere on this very same stage opening for Aerosmith in 1991." That song was "She Talks to Angels." I wasn’t there for that performance, but I can safely assure that this rendition was just as equal or better. Both Rich Robinson and especially Mitchell took their guitar playing to another level on “Wiser Time.” They both were able to express themselves a little more and between their playing and Robinson's over the top vocals, this made for my favorite track of the evening. Chris Robinson added some harmonica for “Thorn in my Pride.” The band also dusted off one of the lesser-known tunes in "Horsehead." It was also the first time they played it since 2010 and it was obvious that the die-hards greatly appreciated it!
Opening the night was Dirty Honey. The band is just starting to make some headway on their own right now. This is the second time this reviewer has seen them. The first was when they opened for Slash with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators two years ago. They were mind blowing then and I must say, they were equally or even more impressive this time around. The band is a throwback to classic rock with solid rhythms and catchy hooks led by a strong voice. The solid six string playing by John Noto is, well, noteworthy. He shined throughout the performance but especially on the opening track "Gypsy' and one of the band's more popular tunes in "Heartbreaker." Vocalist Marc LaBelle has some serious pipes. He doesn’t over sing at all but can really hit the notes when needed. The band has just released their self-titled debut album back in April. Along with some great tunes like “Rolling 7’s” and “California Dreamin,” the band threw in a rendition of Aerosmith’s “Last Child.”
What a double bill, indeed! On one hand, you have The Black Crowes showing everyone they can still deliver the goods with the Robinson Brothers leading the way. On the other hand, you have a great new band that is starting to make a name for themselves. This might be the show of the summer to see!
Gus Griesinger is not only a contributor to Goldmine but he's also a photographer/writer for the Buffalo Night-Life weekly and CEO/Artist Relations of BackstageAxxess (www.backstageaxxess.com).