Rocker Chris Robinson, who rose to fame in the 1990s as the lead singer of the Black Crowes, will perform at The State Theatre on Wednesday with his current band.
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood has seen great success on the festival scene, and the group, which is touring in support of its new record “Barefoot in the Head,” promises to bring a unique live show to State College. For Robinson, no two shows or set lists should be alike.
“We have this new record that we just released last month,” Robinson said. “We have another set of stories and songs to add to the repertoire. We play two sets, and it changes every night. It changes like any other cosmic, electrical current/being walking on the planet. It’s a given set of circumstances and although it may seem the same on the surface, every day is a little bit different.”
While recording “Barefoot in the Head,” Robinson told band members not to bring any gear that had been used on other records or on stage.
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“I asked them to bring gear obviously, but I wanted to sonically start with different things,” he said. “I think just little tweaks brought out some new stuff. Sometimes, I think anything to change it up is good.”
The new album marked not only new gear, but also personnel for CRB — Jeff Hill is now the bassist.
“We hired a session bass player for recordings who was very good, but to have our own guy who is now immersed in our language/signals, that makes a big difference,” Robinson said. “Though, honestly, everyone in the CRB really understands what a unique thing it is in the year 2017 to even go to a beautiful studio and have the time to do something that some people find archaic or antiquated.”
Robinson disagrees with the idea, held by some musicians and fans, that the album is “dead” is today’s world.
“ It’s funny — it’s ‘dead’ if it’s not pulsing through the corporate, money-making minds of the dead souls that run the business, then the album is ‘dead,’ ” he said. “But, for those of us who like music and like to make music, it’s still a viable thing.”
A passion for music and making music is in Robinson’s blood. He grew up in Atlanta, and said his earliest memories are of his father — who was a folk singer in the early ’60s — pulling out his acoustic guitar and singing songs. Between his dad and his music fan mom, there were a couple hundred records in the house while Robinson was growing up.
“That’s where it starts,” Robinson said. “My whole life I had that record collection to dig into, and that kind of sparked everything.”
With a diverse and eclectic array of influences, Robinson became a true student of rock ’n’ roll. He counts Parliment Funkadelic, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker and Leon Russell as early influences. Later, he said he found his way to Big Star Records and singers like Alex Chilton and solo albums from Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. He continues to devour music from new and old artists, with a collection of thousands of vinyl records and downloads.
“As much as music is my life in terms of creating, composing, performing music and all that stuff, my capacity as someone who is interested in music is much larger,” Robinson said. “I’m currently reading the Otis Redding biography. I’m still just a sponge — could be new groups or old groups. I’m obsessive that way.”
Now that he’s reached the half-century club, Robinson’s lavish party days may be behind him.
“I was a rock star in the ’90s — I feel a lot more like a musician these days,” he said. “My life, when I’m not doing this, I’m a dad. So, when I’m at home, I’m Dad. A typical day I’m up at 7 a.m., oatmeal, dressed, lunch, and then take the little one to nature camp. It’s not very exciting or glamorous, but I love it.”
IF YOU GO
- What: Chris Robinson Brotherhood
- When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
- Info: www.thestatetheatre.org