Former Black Crowes Rich Robinson and Marc Ford Discuss the Magpie Salute's New Album, 'High Water I'

(Image credit: David McClister)

The Magpie Salute began in the summer of 2016 as a one-off mini Black Crowes reunion — when Rich Robinson invited guitarist Marc Ford and keyboardist Ed Harsch to supplement his solo band for a show in Woodstock, New York. It went so well that they booked more gigs, and when those were also a hit, the band officially launched—although sadly without Harsch, who passed away November 4, 2016, at age 59. Magpie released a self-titled live album culled from those initial shows, with one new original tune, “Omission,” cut in the studio. Then they hit the road as a 10-piece, playing plenty of Black Crowes covers.

All those gigs verified what they already knew from the first moments onstage together again: They had something special together. Robinson and Ford played together in the Black Crowes from 1992 to 1997 and again in 2005 and 2006. Magpie represented an opportunity to reacquaint themselves and further a musical bond that was always electrifying and is widely considered the Crowes’ peak. Now, the Crowes seem to truly be left behind, with Rich and his brother, Chris Robinson, feuding and moving on. Meanwhile, Magpie Salute have evolved into a truly new band, trimmed down to six players: Robinson, Ford, singer John Hogg, bassist Sven Pipien, drummer Joe Magistro and keyboardist Matt Slocum. Last winter, they entered a Nashville studio and cut 28 songs in about a month. That material has been divided into two albums, High Water I, released August 10, and High Water 2, which will follow.

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Alan Paul

Alan Paul is the author of three books, Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan, One Way Way Out: The Inside Story of the Allman Brothers Band – which were both New  York Times bestsellers – and Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing, a memoir about raising a family in Beijing and forming a Chinese blues band that toured the nation. He’s been associated with Guitar World for 30 years, serving as Managing Editor from 1991-96. He plays in two bands: Big in China and Friends of the Brothers, with Guitar World’s Andy Aledort.