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Chris Robinson on Bringing the ‘California Cosmic Dance Floor’ to Mountain Jam: Exclusive Interview

Photo Credit: Jay Blakesburg
Photo Credit: Jay Blakesburg

The 2016 installment of Mountain Jam, which will be held June 2-5 in Hunter, N.Y., will find former Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson making a return with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. The band made their first appearance at the fest in 2014 and it’s a time that he has fond memories of.

“We had a great time playing in the afternoon and it was a beautiful day,” he tells Ultimate Classic Rock. “I remember standing there on the stage [that same weekend] and watching the Allman Brothers Band.”

“You know, for us to do gigs like that,” he continues, “it’s nice how people respond so well to music that they probably weren’t too familiar with …like a giant group of people. That’s really rewarding in itself that you can lay out some vibes and everyone at a festival like that is open to hear some new stuff and find their groove. We like checking out the East Coast hippie scene [and] it’s also good to see friends.”

Warren Haynes is one of those friends and Robinson has shared many a moment with the veteran guitarist, someone who he has known since “the ancient times,” as he puts it.

“You know, that’s why weirdos like us are drawn to music. We have these cool exalted moments when everything works and we get to play and be free and stuff. Warren has a great sense of humor. Of course, when [late Gov’t Mule/Allman Brothers bassist] Allen Woody was alive and stuff, that was like a whole ‘nother ball of wax. But an amazingly giant weird ball of wax. I look at Warren today and it’s just like, you know, he’s so accomplished and he’s worked so hard and he’s deserved of all his accolades and stuff.”

They’ve had plenty of opportunities to share the stages together over the years and Robinson recalls that one of Gov’t Mule’s first tours found them opening for the Black Crowes. Later, Robinson’s New Earth Mud went out as direct support, opening for the Mule on their fall tour in 2003.

“I think everyone has their ups and downs and goods and bads and stuff, but I think one of the coolest things about the scene, or what people sort of call the ‘jam band world’ is how in normal rock ‘n’ roll, people don’t really behave that way,” he laughs. “They’re usually not so accommodating and friendly and supportive. That’s one really super thing, I think, at least on the musician side as well as the audience side. It’s why there’s so much give and take is because of that kind of behavior. It’s so much kinder and cooler and supportive and real than competitive.”

The band will release Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel, their fourth studio album, on July 29, and as Robinson told us, they’ll be looking forward to sharing a heavy dose of new material with the Mountain Jam audience once again. “We’re coming to play some new jams and get our little California cosmic dance floor going for everyone,” he says, with a chuckle. “We’re super-excited about the new record and about the year in front of us. It’s going to be a great time.”

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