This is the story of The Magpie Salute. As much as the group represents a musical union of swaggering rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelic blues, and campfire-worthy storytelling, it also marks a reunion of musicians whose paths twisted and turned right back to each other. Pulled together by guitarist Rich Robinson, it continued a storyline he began in the Black Crowes with guitarist Marc Ford and bassist Sven Pipien. Meanwhile, vocalist John Hogg shared Hookah Brown with Robinson as keyboardist Matt Slocum and drummer Joe Magistro both joined him for solo records and tours over the years.
Now, these six individuals conjure magic on their full-length debut of original material, High Water I for 2018 with High Water II to come in 2019. “It’s the recontextualization of playing with one another,” Robinson states. “When I was putting this thing together, I was thinking about how even though we may not have played for almost a decade, it just comes back immediately. The chemistry is unexplainable. Of course, I’m the same guy who played with the Black Crowes and wrote all of those songs, but this is a different context for myself, Marc, and Sven. It’s the convergence of three different worlds and eras for me. We’re all here together in this one place. Simultaneously, it’s amazing for Marc and Sven to play with Joe and Matt and John to be in the middle of it all. This is what I wanted to do.” Ford reveals “This is probably the best band I’ve ever been in. As a player, it challenges me. There’s something beyond us that we’re agreeing with. This music wants us to be a part of it.”
As those roads converged, the Magpie Salute first took flight in 2016 when Robinson assembled the original ten-piece incarnation for a now seminal Woodstock gig. The group went on to sell out four consecutive nights at The Gramercy in January 2017. By the beginning of 2018, the band delivered a total of 77 seismic sets worldwide comprised of a 170-song repertoire of covers, Crowes’ tunes, and solo material. Acclaim came from Guitar World, Relix, and more, while Rolling Stone summed it up succinctly as “Explosive.” By the time they retreated to Dark Horse Studios in Nashville with Robinson in the producer’s chair, the vision crystallized with the six-person lineup. “The core was really important and needed to shine as a strong six-piece. It was great to build something new last year. Now, we’re working towards something as a tight unit.”
“We bashed out all of the framework on tour,” continues Ford. “When we got off the road, we focused and let it really shine.”
The Magpie Salute are launching High Water I with “Send Me An Omen.” The twang of a hummable riff roars under Hogg’s towering delivery before spiraling into an entrancing melody punctuated by gang harmonies and butter smooth solos.
In many ways, the name reflects the spirit of The Magpie Salute. “Magpies are revered by ancient and indigenous cultures around the world, because they walk that bridge between dark and light. A magpie is also a cousin to a crow. This band was a cousin to the Crowes last year. Now, there’s a superstition where you salute a magpie if you see him. It supposedly wards off bad spirits. A salute means, ‘We come in peace.’ That’s our goal. We just want to play together. It made sense.” In the end, The Magpie Salute’s story is just beginning to get good. Baptized by High Water, these friends start anew.
Rich Robinson - guitar, vocals; Marc Ford - guitar, vocals; John Hogg - vocals; Joe Magistro – drums, percussion; Sven Pipien - bass, vocals; Matt Slocum – keyboards
Byron House - stand-up bass; Dan Wistrom - pedal steel