Mud Boy

Chris Robinson decides to Crowe it alone with an earthy new band

Just don't expect the teetering-on-the-brink vibe of a vintage Crowes gig. "One of the things that always bummed me out was the violence," he says. It was not uncommon for Robinson to halt the group cold in mid-song to address some attention-starved concertgoer. After he was hit twice with flying objects during a 1999 gig at the venue formerly known as the Aerial, he asked the fans near the front of the stage to point out the perpetrator. The throng parted like the Red Sea. As the guy was escorted out screaming, Robinson reminded him, "Don't forget to buy a T-shirt on the way out, asshole!"

Not this time, Robinson hopes. "This show is much more relaxed and laid-back. I hope that people can just mellow out and dance and hang and feel part of a vibe. This is very communal, hands-on music."

After the tour, Robinson plans to do another solo record. The future of the Black Crowes is uncertain, but the door is still wide open. "When a band's not working, it's easy to say it's broken up, but it's something that I love and is important with my life," he says. "Eventually, if it seems like something that's vibrant, then the conversation will be had. But there are egos involved…aw, it's just band shit."

Asked about how his relationship with his brother, with whom he formed the musical and emotional axis of the Crowes, has changed, Robinson is stoic. "It's weird. To be honest, I really haven't talked to him that much."

For now, Chris Robinson is happy to sink his toes into New Earth Mud and enjoy the kind of creative outlet he hasn't had since what was then called Mr. Crowe's Garden was playing tiny beer-soaked Atlanta clubs. Back then the band's brew of choice was Red Stripe, whose squat brown bottles were scattered about backstage during a press conference at the 1993 Houston show. But since the assembled reporters included a scribe from High Times, it's doubtful that the beer was the only product of Jamaica in the band's luggage. It's no wonder that Robinson often sounds like a one-man travel agency for the sunny island country.

"Do yourself a favor. Go to Jamaica, immediately," he laughs. "It's one of the greatest countries on the planet."

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