Chris Robinson Brotherhood conjures myth and mystery 

click to enlarge Inspired by folklore: Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s latest album is “The Magic Door.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Inspired by folklore: Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s latest album is “The Magic Door.”

The band name itself is an in-joke because the Chris Robinson Brotherhood features keyboardist Adam MacDougall, bassist Mark Dutton, drummer George Sluppick, guitarist Neal Casal and, of course, Chris Robinson on guitar and vocals — but not his brother and longtime Black Crowes bandmate, Rich Robinson. But in two albums the group has forged its own extended-jam path, exemplified by the surreal Alan Forbes cover illustration on the new record, “The Magic Door.” “I told him I wanted him to do Albrecht Durer’s celestial map of the northern sky, but with our psychedelic icons and mythology intermingled, like when our space gnome Captain Nebula opens the door to the other side,” Robinson says of his concept.

Who needs drugs when you have Alan Forbes designing your logo and cover art? Hey, times are tough in America! You should get something extra out of your original investment!

Are you into astronomy or astrology? I’m more into mythology, folklore. But there is an esoteric plane where all those cosmic things collide. And of course, you have to read Robert Graves’ “The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth.” But I go through phases. A few years ago, it was all Arabic, then I was into the Indian stuff. But lately, I’ve been into Dark Ages, Anglo-Saxon historical mythology, plus I’ve been revisiting all the Icelandic stuff — the sagas and the eddas.

What are the most fascinating stories? I love a lot of the Mayan and Native American genesis fables, with trees growing out of people’s necks, and coyotes and snakes and winged serpents. And according to their mythology, on Dec. 21, it’s all supposed to end. My birthday is Dec. 20, so I’m hoping for a big bang this year, you know? But I don’t like the arrogance of time.

How do you chart your own life then? Well, it depends. Are you doing it in a Judeo-Christian model? A Hindu model? It’s all relative to your experience, and how much orthodoxy or dogma you’ve been exposed to — how much fear plays in to how you see the world. But time is malleable — you can move and manipulate it. And being a musician, I’ve always known it. The best moments with a piece of music, drugs or no drugs, are like falling in love or when your child is born. Time just stops and opens up. It’s like Robin Williamson from The Incredible String Band says: “Music is eternal, and sometimes human beings get to play it. And if those human beings don’t get in the way too much? Sometimes the music gets through.” To me, that’s the whole point.

IF YOU GO

Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. today, Wednesday and Friday-Sunday

Tickets: $31

Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.gamhtickets.com

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Tom Lanham

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