Green Leaf Rustlers at Love Field, by Carolyn McCoy
Green Leaf Rustlers (photo: Carolyn McCoy)

Words by Carolyn McCoy

When ex-Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson moved to Marin County last year, I figured he was just another rock star legend finding a home within the same landscape that I call home. I figured he’d melt into the untouchable platforms held by fellow rock star neighbors like Sammy Hagar, Carlos Santana, and Bob Weir; folks I can only stand back and admire from afar if I see them at the local gas station or breakfast eatery on a Saturday. But I figured wrong, as Chris Robinson is quite fine with getting down and dirty with the locals.

Green Leaf Rustlers, Chris Robinson’s latest interpretation of blues and Americana-based rock and roll, headlined Western Weekend in Point Reyes this last Saturday, tearing through mostly blues and rock covers like ”Honky Tonk Song,”  “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Crossroads,” and “Bertha” while sprinkling in lengthy space jams and cosmic grooves. Robinson’s band is culled from lesser known but massively talented local musicians who are legends in their own right, including bassist Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship, Moonalice), pedal steel player Barry Sless (Dave Nelson Band, Moonalice), guitarist Greg Loiacono (Mother Hips), and drummer John Molo (Bruce Hornsby, Phil & Friends). Witnessing their combined sonic force at a small and intimate music festival literally in the middle of a rural pasture town in West Marin was glorious, and in many ways it also seemed within the normal bounds of the music culture of this area.

With sheep grazing in view, children running free, the coastal fog at bay and the sun warming our faces, we danced the day away with other local rockers San Geronimo, whose high-energy set inspired Robinson to share a few songs while Ross James and the Broken Kittens aimed their bluesy rock into the crowd with searing guitar licks and electric cosmic jams that blew us away.

As I walked to my car near the end of the night, the crickets chirped and Venus was setting to the west. I stood silently in the middle of the darkened road and listened from afar as Green Leaf Rustlers ended their set, the crowd cheering. I smiled to myself because I was reminded of how lucky I am to have such talent in my proverbial backyard.