Jenny Lewis, Chris and Rich Robinson, and Dawes photos and review by Brian DeSpain
Chris and Rich Robinson headlined Saturday’s main stage at the 30A Songwriters Fest. The brothers, as Brothers of a Feather, played a stripped down set from their long history with The Black Crowes.
Under a moderate rain, enthusiasm from the crowd, donned in rain ponchos, wasn’t dampened. Chris Robinson remarked on the lack of solar rays at the outdoor event at Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach, Florida, “Jenny Lewis, Dawes, we all live in Los Angeles, so it’s kinda funny to come to Florida to get rained on.”
Dawes and Jenny Lewis were show openers. Dawes got the double dip by performing in the house band for Jenny Lewis.
The duo start out with “Jealous Again” and next Chris Robinson added harmonica to his brother’s acoustic strums on “Hotel Illness.”
“Wiser Time” follows and a bluesier number “Good Friday” is next where the harmonica has the aesthetic of a hobo playing on a railcar.
With gray, overcast skies above, the duo jams out on “Thorn In My Pride”: “Wake me when the day breaks / Show me how the sun shines / Tell me about your heartbreak / Who could be so unkind?” Chris vigorously plays on the harp and Rich broke a smile as he finishes up strumming on the song.
The Robinsons then got into their early music influence. “Dad was a folk musician. We grew up with a lot of roots music,” Chris Robinson said. They start on “Garden Gate” from 2009’s Before the Frost… Until the Freeze. “We dug deeper at Levon Helm’s studio on that album.”
If any song on the set was perfectly designed for acoustic treatment, “Oh Josephine” fits that bill. Then a hard luck song follows, a Ry Cooder cover “Boomer’s Story.”
Continuing the folk portion of the set, the duo got into “Woah Mule” from 2008’s Warpaint. Switching to a 12-string acoustic, Rich Robinson provided a mountain minstrelsy sound on “Under A Mountain.”
Chris and Rich Robinson switched it up and shift to 1994’s Amorica with “Have Mercy.” Chris Robinson reminisced after about hiring Ed Harsch to expand to keyboards in the band. They first met in Cincinnati for a ZZ Top show opener. Harsch passed away in 2016.
Chris Robinson remarked that he thought he heard running water in Harsch’s bathroom from the hotel room door. Harsch was running water over hotdogs so they would be ready after the show. “Man, that’s the blues,” he quipped.
“Soul Singing” from 2001’s Lion delivers the Gospel-style vibe and then the duo moves to “She Talks To Angels” to close out the regular set.
Even with the accumulated rain and the occasional use of the squeegee broom on the stage, Chris and Rich Robinson return for an encore. From the head bobs and singing from the crowd, “Willin’” met with approval by this songwriter fest crowd.
Dawes returned to the stage in short order for a set after backing Jenny Lewis and start out with “That Western Skyline” from 2009’s North Hills.
With the keyboard turned up in the mix like a Wallflowers show, “Didn’t Fix Me” from 2020’s Good Luck With Whatever had an idyllic ring.
The title song from Good Luck With Whatever precedes a great jam out “Less Than Five Miles Away” and the crowd was clearly grooving out.
Frontman Taylor Goldsmith humorously remarks, “I know this is a songwriters fest and 90 percent of that was guitar playing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a song.”
Next was a song about people being mean to each other – “Crack The Case” and listenening to the lyrics it seems to cover a broken relationship, the news media cycle and political polarization, referencing “two version of a dream.”
Then Goldmith turned to his home in a love song with “Time Spent In Los Angeles” from 2011’s Nothing is Wrong: You‘ve got that special kind of sadness / You’ve got that tragic set of charms / That at only comes from time spent in Los Angeles / Makes me want to wrap you in my arms. Energizing guitar shredding completes the song.
Another jam, “Most People” received a rousing crowd reception. “Still Feel Like A Kid” follows and
“All Your Favorite Bands” received a standing ovation at Grand Boulevard.
The crowd got the indie folk treatment from Jenny Lewis at Grand Boulevard at the 30A Songwiters’ Festival last weekend, including two new songs performed on the set. Lewis was stunning.
Things started off with “Just One of the Guys” from 2014’s The Voyager. Then three songs followed from 2019’s On The Line: shifting from guitars to the keyboard on “Wasted Youth” then “Dogwood” and “Little White Dove” followed.
“Psychos” provided cosmic flair to the electric guitar with some sample lyrics from the new song: “There are no hard feelings / How I can I help You / I gotta get away, get away.”
Shifting to a driving bass line was Jenny Lewis’ newest song “Puppy and a Truck” released on November 3. The song starts out: “My forties are kicking my ass / And handing them to me in a margarita glass / I was infatuated with an older man / And then I dated a psychopath / So I’m 44 in 2020 and thank god I saved up my money / Time to ruminate like, what the f*ck was that.”
The other new song on the set, “Apples and Oranges,” is about a couple not mixing well with their expectations:” I found your first draft in the trash goodbye and all that / He don’t kiss me in the morning and don’t tuck me in at night.”
Addressing the crowd, Lewis touched on her songwriting process, “I tend to write about experiences and things that I know. I tend to say to my friends and lovers, don’t hang out with cannibals if you don’t want to get eaten.”
Next, there was a lament about a past relationship where the ex-boyfriend has moved on to another woman is what “She’s Not Me” is about is from The Voyager. The set closed out with the acoustic-driven title song to 2008’s Acid Tongue, a song about recovering from addiction.
Check out the lineup here: https://30asongwritersfestival.com
Check out Jenny on the new album by Nathaniel Rateliff, reviewed here: REVIEW: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats “The Future”