On June 5, 2012, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood released Big Moon Ritual. The Black Crowes were not touring or recording so Chris Robinson decided to start a new band. This original incarnation of the CRB included Robinson (guitar, vocals), Neal Casal (guitar, vocals), Muddy Dutton (bass, vocals), George Sluppick (drums) and Adam MacDougall (keyboards).  The band changed members through their eight year run, but this debut release captures the essence of this notable group.

Robinson gave an interview to Rick Florino that summer providing a glimpse into the band’s intent. “For us, I think our mission statement is we’re the farm-to-table psychedelic band. In this day and age, the music business is talent shows featuring people who have fucking incredibly white teeth telling other people who desperately want to be famous they’re good or bad. Let people be interested in that, while the rest of us live on the outskirts of town in artist communes doing things everyone else only dreams about. 

“For people who want to be famous and make a lot of money, it’s probably a hard time in the music business. The only way you’re getting on a major label is if you sign your life away and you let all of these people tell you what you’re going to be and what you’re going to look like. Our idea for this was, ‘Let’s have a local L.A. band, just play in California, see where the music takes us, and have a good time’. 13,500 miles and 46 gigs later, we’re a solid band that said, ‘Okay, now we’re going to go hit America’.”

Big Moon Ritual was produced by Thom Monahan, who produced Robinson’s second solo album This Magnificent Distance as well as Casal’s Sweeten the Distance. Big Moon Ritual is a strong record. The tunes were new originals–the shortest number clocks in at 7:08. Each song carries its own weight and defines each member’s role. The group’s cohesiveness gelled by playing 120 shows by the time they cut these sessions. 

“Rosalee” counts as the rocker with the classic Robinson line: “Is the air getting thicker?/Are we getting high?”. My favorite is “Tulsa Yesterday” that washes a nice musical waterfall over the listener. Other tracks on this collection would serve in the group’s live repertory for years such as “Star or Stone”, “Tomorrow’s Blues”, “Reflections On A Broken Mirror”, “Beware, Take Care” and “One Hundred Days of Rain”. 

Potent stuff…

Read a 2016 Chris Robinson interview of mine in Insured Beyond The Grave Vol. 2.