STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
A two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee — as a member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash — David Crosby still has some tricks up his sleeve.
His “An Evening with David Crosby & Friends” tour features most of his recently released solo album “Lighthouse,” rearranged versions of the familiar songs, and songs that, according to the 75-year-old Crosby, have taken audiences by surprise and led to standing ovations. The “friends” backing Crosby are the producer of “Lighthouse” — Snarky Puppy bandleader/bassist Michael League — on both guitar and bass, and singer/songwriters Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis.
“We’re singing a lot of harmony and it’s really spectacular. I like bands where it’s like an actual band, and that’s what this is,” said Crosby, adding that he makes an effort to avoid the trap of “turning on the smoke machine” and absentmindedly running down the greatest hits list.
Crosby and friends take the stage Dec. 9 at the Keswick Theatre.
Asked in a phone interview about his favorite collaborations among the many people he’s written, recorded and performed with, Crosby seemed like he kept wondering if he forgot to name anybody among the “whole gigantic load of singer/songwriters I admire.” Considering he’s only able to get any kind of decent sleep for four hours at a time while on his tour bus, that’s excusable. He named Joni Mitchell, David Gilmour, Phil Collins (Crosby and Collins are not as close as they seemingly were in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he said), Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Paul Simon.
For Crosby, despite the significant improvements that have been made to tour buses since the 1960s, back when he started out, the only good part about touring is the performance. “There’s about two and a half hours of real joy when you’re playing, and the rest of it’s pretty much crap,” he said.
Crosby’s recorded solo output has historically been sporadic. However his creative fire is so stoked these days (and he’s not on speaking terms with Graham Nash) that he already has an “extremely good” album 90 percent finished. Crosby’s chief collaborator on the next record is his son, James Raymond, with whom he was in a band in the late ‘90s and early 2000s called CPR (A twist on CSN/CSNY — Crosby, Jeff Pevar and Raymond).
Just like with the authority-challenging “Someone Other Than You” and “What Makes It So?”, and the Syrian refugee commentary “Look in Their Eyes,” that are on his latest album, Crosby shared that one of his to-be-released songs is a jagged barb aimed at Congress called “Capitol.”
So yes, the social justice activist that penned “Almost Cut My Hair,” and harmonized with conviction on “Ohio” and “Find the Cost of Freedom,” still sees himself as a modern town crier, but acknowledged “it’s a tricky thing.”
“People overdo it and they lose the ear of the people they’re trying to reach. Our main job is to make you boogie,” Crosby said.
Crosby will occasionally answer questions from the stage that were asked through the “Ask Croz” portal at www.davidcrosby.com. He said he often gets inquiries about the meanings of lines from certain songs, “did you really meet …?” questions, and requests for his recollections about Woodstock (To Crosby’s chagrin, for some people Woodstock has taken on the same historical significance as World War II). One of the stranger questions, he said, was: “Are you really related to Bing (singer Bing Crosby)?”