A guitar player’s guitar player, Rich Robinson has always been known for his six-string prowess, dating back to his time playing alongside brother Chris in the Black Crowes. Since the group blew apart in 2015, the younger Robinson has been focusing his efforts on the Magpie Salute, a quintet touring behind its sophomore bow, High Water I. When asked about what current guitar players he liked, the Georgia native was puzzled.
“I kind of feel like that there’s not too much playing going on anymore. I think that bankers took over the music industry and people are scared shitless. They don’t want to lose their jobs, so they play it safe and they just tell everyone to not play too much. So everyone is complicit. I wonder who the first dude, the first producer or the first A&R guy was that killed the bass in the ‘80s by saying something to the effect of, ‘Just ride the root note and play the kick-drum pattern’ and then everyone just started falsely doing that same shit because they thought it made them sound good?” he said.
“My favorite records and favorite bass player were [Free’s] Andy Fraser and John Paul Jones—even Bill Wyman. Paul McCartney—are you kidding? Probably one of the most melodic bass players that added so much to those songs, that you could expand that out. I played with a keyboard player recently that was so beat down and just told to basically disappear. ‘Don’t play it up, just play the part.’ What that means is you don’t bring yourself to the table. It’s supposed to be about, ‘We’re all adult now, we know more and we don’t play as much.’ So how come all the greatest records are played by 20-year-olds? How come those Stones, Zeppelin and Dylan records and all these other amazing albums are made by people in their 20s? Because they weren’t concerned with holding back. It was that passion that brought it there. What’s even cooler is that Jimmy [Page] and Neil Young are people we’ve played with that still have youthful passion but have the ability that they have after playing 40 years.” That said, here are some of Rich Robinson’s favorite axe wielders.
Jimmy Page (January 4, 1944-present)
“His composition, the way he writes parts and songs and the way that he adds to them is just brilliant to me. His ability to go from these huge, rock & roll riffs and then do something like ‘White Mountainside,’ which is more like this Celtic tuning and traditional song—to do it the way he did it and bring that into his playing and writing [is great].”
Nick Drake (June 19, 1948-November 25, 1974)
“Nick Drake is one of my all-time favorite guitar players because of the way that he picks along with his rhythm, his tunings and note choice are all things that I’ve always been fascinated by.”
Stephen Stills (January 3, 1945-present)
“I love how he would approach the acoustic and electric guitar and how they are very different sounding, but still both brilliant in their own way. [I also love] his tunings and how he did things.”
Peter Green (October 29, 1946-present)
“I just thought he was brilliant with how he played and what he brought to the table was so authentic along with his tone and approach. Also, his voice was so cool too.”
Keith Richards (December 18, 1943-present)
“Keith is obvious because of the way he wrote, played and the way his sound shows lots of passion and what came out of him was pretty phenomenal.”
Magpie Salute will be appearing on Sept. 7 at Sony Hall, 235 W. 46th St. NYC. Visit www.sonyhall.com or call 212-997-5123 for more information. The band will also be appearing on Sept. 9 at The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave. Westbury. Visit www.thespaceatwestbury.com or call 800-745-3000 for more information.