Failing to distinguish the highway lines through a small opening on my frozen windshield, I came to terms with the fact that I may not make it to my destination. While it may sound overdramatic, Chicago was in the wake of a historically treacherous polar vortex, with temperatures falling (well) below zero. To make matters worse, ice and snow ridden roads had been deemed unsafe to drive on. On January 25th-26th, I proceeded to make my way to Pilsen with little control over my vehicle, and ignoring all precaution. After all, Chris Robinson Brotherhood was kicking off their 2019 winter tour with a two-night residency at Thalia Hall.
A substantial weight was lifted from my shoulders as I parked at West 19th and South Throop on both Friday and Saturday.
At that point, all signs of worry had vanished, and I could finally feel the underlying excitement that had been building in anticipation for each show. As the band (featuring Chris Robinson, Neal Casal, Adam MacDougall, Jeff Hill, and Tony Leone) meandered through material from each of their six studio releases, (as well as cuts from the “Betty’s Blends” live collection) they often managed to surprise fans with additional covers in between. Songs such as The Rolling Stones‘ “Let It Bleed” and Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” both surfaced, along with others by Bob Dylan, Lead Belly, Jackie Moore, and The Coasters. Setlists from both shows included a plethora of free-flowing jams and wandering solos, complimented by Robinson’s soulful and dynamic vocal ability.
While I grew up a fan of Robinson’s former band, The Black Crowes, catching CRB live had also been years in the making.
A few summers back, I was driving home when I started flipping through the radio. The dial happened to land on a Glen Ellyn-based station, known as 90.9 WDCB. Soon after, I found myself overtaken by what I would later find out to be “One Hundred Days of Rain“. The angelic beauty of this song (which appears on CRB’s debut album, “Big Moon Ritual“) struck a serious chord within me, and soon strengthened my desire to catch this incredible group of individuals perform together in a live setting. Needless to say, it was well worth the wait.
Tickets for Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s 2019 winter tour can be purchased here.