Interview: Rich Robinson of The Magpie Salute

Music fans are in for a treat as a dynamic group of musicians called The Magpie Salute including guitarists Rich Robinson and Marc Ford of The Black Crowes perform in downtown Houston at Revention Music Hall on Friday, Oct. 20 with doors opening for the all ages show opening at 7 p.m.

Joining Robinson, who is the younger brother of Chris Robinson, and Ford includes Sven Pipien (Crowes’ bassist) alongside drummer Joe Magistro and guitarist Nico Bereciartua. The Magpie Salute also boasts a fine cast of vocalists, including lead singer John Hogg, former Crowes singer Charity White and background singers, Adrien Reju and Katrine Ottosen.

Earlier this summer, the band released their self-titled debut album recorded live in the studio in front of an audience at Applehead Recording in Woodstock, with the exception of “Omission.” The 10-song album carries special significance as it marks the last recorded work by Eddie Harsch, the late Black Crowes keyboardist whose signature sound and gentle soul are woven into the band.

How did you go about the selection of musicians for The Magpie Salute?

I was touring last year with my solo band and my drummer and I have been playing together since 2003 outside of the Black Crowes. I’ve put together some great people over the years. I met Nico Bereciartua and he began playing guitar for me. I then reached out to Sven, who was in the Crowes with me for years, plus I had known him for 35 years or so. We had some good shows last year and it was a very cool thing. Then the Woodstock Sessions thing came up and I reached out to Marc (Ford) and he was into it. I spoke with Eddie Harsch, who I thought was just a brilliant musician. It was just going to be three days and something really cool and fun and basically it. We had no plans past that. I decided to bring in a couple of singers including Adrien Reju, who is out with us now. When we got there and played, there was something really special about it. We all felt it and there is something intangible when we all get together and play in a room. I then went on to finish my solo tour and was actually in Texas and thought, what would I call this? What songs would we play? We played one show, it sold out, and played two more shows and they sold out. We started getting calls about doing shows and we already had a record in the can. All we had to do was dub John Hogg’s voice over a couple of things. To keep the spirit of the band, we added John on some songs. I had this song in the studio that I had never finished that John and I written years ago in 2002. We finished it and everyone put their parts on it and we had our first official Magpie song, so that’s really how it all happened.

For the debut album, how did you go about choosing some of the songs to record? Were these some of your favorite songs?

I tried to put together songs that had a connection to everyone. Marc had played the song “Fearless” in his band called Blue Floyd and I played “Fearless” in the Crowes. Marc and I played some of the same covers. I picked things that I would like to hear. I thought, how cool would it be to play “War Drums” with these guys?

I read that the band will next release a double album.

We have a lot in the works. We are getting better every day as a band. That’s why we came out and announced we were doing 60 shows. That’s how you know how to be a band. You learn everyone’s language.

How fun is it to play with everyone during these live shows?

It’s what we wanted to do. Sometimes in bands, when there is success, and a lot of elements and you get down to 25 years in, there can be some baggage, but this thing is really cool because we are all really vigilant about not falling into those traps. We are also older so we can have this excitement without crushing it. It’s the art of improvisation as we change sets every night and even changing dynamics of songs and keeping everyone on their toes. That’s why you get into a band. Stretch your legs and run in a field. Let it be free.

Concert Details:

Revention Music Center (520 Texas Ave, downtown Houston), 7 p.m.



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