Ryan Chartrand

Being a member of “The Family Band” doesn’t bother Jason Crosby, who, though not related to Robert Randolph, says he feels like a part of the family.

Robert Randolph and the Family Band is composed of guitarist Robert Randolph, his brother, drummer Marcus Randolph, bassist Danyel Morgan, and Crosby, who plays both the organ and the violin with the band.

He said of being a part of the “Family Band,” “we’re all out there on the stage together and you know Marcus and Robert are family and me and Danyel are treated as family as well. I think the name is definitely true to the spirit of what is going on.”

As the organ player, Crosby sees his role in the band as not being a solitary one, “I think I play a bunch of different roles… from a chordal aspect I provide a lot of the chords when Robert’s soloing,” he said adding that as far as the “Family Band” is concerned, “Me and Marcus and Danyel provide like a nice core for Robert to play over.”

Robert Randolph and the Family Band’s live show is a fluid mix of improvisation and written music, much of which stems from jam sessions which fuse Crosby’s jazz and classical background with the other band member’s church and gospel.

“We don’t write a set list, we go up there and we play. There’s at least one or two songs every night where we’re just kind of making it up or, you know, taking a jam that we’ve played in sound check or on the bus and trying it on the stage for the first time in front of people,” said Crosby.

It’s this adlib style that has fans calling the band a “jam band.”

“I don’t necessarily consider us a jam band, I mean, maybe because our songs are long in length and there’s solos and improvisation…I think, if you listen to the records, there are songs there, and some of them are in a rock thing or a gospel thing. Jam Band, maybe,” he said adding, “Everyone’s got their own interpretation of style and I think the record “Unclassified” was definitely appropriately named, it’s kind of hard to peg this band down as to one style because we can play so many things.”

Crosby said that on their current tour, which they’ve been on since mid-April, “We’ve had some really long drives and some close calls. We drove through Kansas during that bad tornado, and we weren’t far from it and I was the only one awake on the bus in the back lounge and I was really, really scared. And then when we got to Colorado the next day I turned on the news and saw about that poor town that had gotten almost completely destroyed it’s just scary to be that close to it.”

Though he enjoys the recording process, Crosby said that he prefers playing live shows. “I think that the live show is where we can really stretch out and be ourselves. I love “Colorblind” and I love all of the records that we’ve made, but I think you get the most joy of playing live and hearing the people react to you and the musicians reacting to one another, whereas in the studio you’re trying to create these songs that are, you know, gotta be three or four minutes and have to have a hook and that’s cool and that’s a cool process, but for me, the live show is where it’s at I think,” he said.

As far as live shows go, a personal high point for Crosby was when the band toured with Eric Clapton and more importantly, a member of his band.

“We spent six months out on the road with Clapton, so, that collaboration was great, you know, Robert and Clapton got to really know each other well and for me on a personal level, it was amazing to spend six months with Billy Preston the organ player,” he said, “He was like the fifth Beatle, he played on the “White Album” and “Abbey Road” and he’s just one of the most incredible B-3 players of all time and he passed away actually the following year and that was his last major tour, and to spend time with him and talk to him about his time with the Beatles and his life was pretty incredible for me to get to know that guy.”

Currently, Robert Randolph and the Family Band is playing dates with Ziggy Marley, whose music Crosby says matches Robert’s well.

“Ziggy’s got a banner behind him and it’s four little banners, one with each letter on it that spells love, and right away that caught my attention because that’s Robert’s message you know, ‘I need more love,’ and love is definitely a theme in his music,” he said, “It’s coming from different places but the message is definitely the same.”

You can catch Robert Randolph and the Family Band with Ziggy Marley and openers The New Longview and Resination at Avila Beach Resort today. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the show starts at 4:45 p.m. sharp.

Crosby’s message to fans who plan on attending the show was, “Get ready to dance, definitely get ready to feel good and smile and move around, and definitely to feel good about yourself and feel good about being there, send smiles to the stage and we’ll send them back, and just to have a good time. It’s definitely going to be a lot of energy that’s for sure.”

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