When a band sinks into the murky, vague waters of an "indefinite hiatus," it's easy to imagine the members putting on sweatpants and taking the time to finally binge-watch that show they're way behind on. This is not the case for songwriter and guitarist Rich Robinson.
Robinson, part of the massively popular American rockers the Black Crowes, a band he started with brother Chris, says that the Crowes' currently indefinite hiatus is not necessarily a vacation for him; it's given him the time to continue working on his more personal solo material.
"This is my third solo record," says Robinson, on the topic of this year's solid The Ceaseless Sight. "So these things are coming even more naturally. Some of them were written on the spot."
Grappling with that fine line of inspired, effortless songcraft and more meticulous, calculated writing is a strenuously difficult task, but having made so many records since the early '90s has given Robinson a confident finesse. The Ceaseless Light is a strong improvement on his previous solo work, albums that were already reliable collections of hearty Southern rock.
Perhaps most impressive is Robinson's constantly improving voice, which is steadily filling out into a complete presence alongside his more obvious focus on composition. Southern rock has never been a sound accused of subtlety, but there's nothing showy about Robinson's crooning, perhaps among the most earnest voices in the genre right now.
Of course, Robinson is quick to shift the credit for his success to his accompaniment: "I have a great band right now, made up of nothing but fantastic players. The shows we're playing are only getting better and better."
Robinson will be headlining at the Riverside Event Center in what once was the historic Masonic Temple, now reopened as Riverside Place. A relatively unconventional house for a large rock show, it will be intriguing to see how the venue fares with Robinson's rollicking, often borderline psychedelic blues rock.
"People always take a risk when they come out and see something new," Robinson says. "They're taking a risk on a new context, and there's something really cool about that."
Aware that the shadow of his other band is likely inescapable, Robinson seems happy to have had that success and does not seem bitter about audiences undoubtedly comparing his solo work to his time with the Crowes. Other acts do not always have this amount of humility in similar situations.
"People might think they know what to expect," Robinson says, "and they might be a bit surprised ... But it's always a hell of a show." ♦
Rich Robinson Band with Alpha Tango Alpha and Prophet Omega • Wed, July 16, at 8 pm • Riverside Event Center • 1108 W. Riverside • $20/$25 day of • ticketfly.com • 747-1200