The CRB Woodshed Chronicles — Part 1

Woodshedding is a term that musicians use to describe practice sessions where they work out the details of the songs. Practice makes perfect and even the most accomplished musicians must practice their craft frequently to be at their best. Since I live in New Jersey and the Richards brothers and Gregg live in the Des Moines area, there are a few logistical hurdles that make the ability to practice frequently difficult. Nonetheless, we believe we have figured out a way to bridge the thousand-mile gap.

However, before we talk about the ‘how’, let’s talk about the ‘why’. It takes a lot of effort to get the sounds right and the notes right and the song arrangements right. Even if the musical skills are decent for the individual players, practice and repetition make the songs sound great. CRB will need to ‘woodshed’ our set lists to get everything right.

Practicing the CRB original tune  Light & Sound  for the first time in 40 years.

Practicing the CRB original tune Light & Sound for the first time in 40 years.

After the initial get together in July of 2016, we all made a commitment to work toward getting gigs and playing for our fans again. We want to be an excellent classic rock cover band who will play a few original tunes that rock. We also know that since our skills and equipment have improved over the years, we want to be more faithful to the original recordings than we were 40 years ago. In the 70’s we admittedly played decent imitations of the originals, but we know we can do better this time around. It’s easy enough to say this was our goal, but from a practical perspective we needed a strategy.

I was at my local Harley Davidson dealership last fall for an event and a band was providing entertainment for a few hours. The band played a variety of songs with many of them in the classic rock category. On most of the songs the bass player did a good job, but when they played Long Train Runnin’ I was disappointed. His rendition was not very close to the original bass line and for me the cover was not very good. When I listen to a band cover a song, I would like to hear most of the elements of song as well as flavor the band brings. It is CRB’s desire to be faithful to the songs we play.

As the world has turned, it is now clear the original lineup of CRB played some of the most enduring rock songs ever written. Led Zeppelin, Doobie Brothers, and ZZ Top songs are still played on the radio every day. When I talk to people about music, most people, regardless of their age, consider classic rock one of their favorites. I don’t know how much of the current music will be played 40 years from now, but I’m sure they will still be playing Led Zeppelin. It is great stuff. Even more reason to do it right.

Takin' Care of Business  sounded great! It was like we picked up right where we left off in 1977.

Takin' Care of Business sounded great! It was like we picked up right where we left off in 1977.

At the end of the day, our goal is to play some of the greatest rock songs ever written to the best of our abilities. I personally hope other musicians will not be disappointed in my interpretation of Tiran Porter’s amazing bass line on Long Train Runnin’. To everyone hearing us play, we want the songs to sound a lot like the original so they will want to dance or sing along to songs they know and love. To make that happen, it is going to take a lot of practice.  

I hope this explains ‘why’ we are taking our rehearsals so seriously and why we needed to work out the logistics of ‘woodshedding’ our music. I am happy to say that we have figured out a strategy and in the next blog I will talk about ‘how’ we are making it work.

Rock on,