Black Crowes guitarist takes Winter Park stage |

Black Crowes guitarist takes Winter Park stage

Cyndi McCoy
Winter Park, Colorado

“I don’t play rock music,” said Marc Ford, guitarist, songwriter and the next featured artist for the Grand County Blues Society. “It’s rock and roll. The roll is where the blues is at, the gospel, the swing. It’s the feel.”

Ford’s guitar playing has been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Greg Allman, and Jimmy Page. He is best known as the former guitarist for the Black Crowes.

Years ago, his band Burning Tree opened for the Crowes in 1990 and Ford’s talent caught the attention of Chris Robinson.

“There weren’t a lot of bands playing rock ‘n’ roll at the time, and we rocked hard,” Ford said. All he knew, Robinson said, was that Burning Tree “made a big, loud sound, they were on the move, and the singer was bad a**.”

Ford left the Crowes in 1997 and went to play with Federale and Blue Floyd. In his 2002 solo album, he downplayed his guitar fame and put a sincere focus to his songwriting (with inspiration from “anything”). The album was influenced by country rock legends (like Neil Young) and included guest performances by friends Warren Haynes, Lenny Kravitz guitarist Craig Ross, Allen Woody and Matt Abts (Gov’t. Mule), and Ben Harper.

He put aside his touring band (the Sinners) and accepted an offer to play lead guitar in Harper’s band, the Innocent Criminals for its 2003 tour. His collaboration in the studio, which helped Harper and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama win a Grammy in 2005 inspired a surprise call to rejoin the Crowes. Ford said their music was always “fantastic,” so he figured why not?

Ford and the band reconnected for the “All Join Hands” tour of 2005 and the band’s first live concert DVD “Freak ‘n” Roll … Into the Fog.” Touring took its toll and Ford played one final show with them at Red Rocks Amphitheater in 2006. Afterward he plunged back into his songwriting and recruited Mark “Muddy” Dutton and Doni Gray (of Burning Tree) for work on his follow-up solo album.

The Neptune Blues Club band is coming for Ford’s special jam for the Fraser Valley. Putting the band together, he said, is easily the most fun he’s had. The club describes itself as a high-octane blues band, “contagious” dance band, and as a “profound psychedelic experience” on its MySpace page.

The ensemble was formed in California by Ford and “groove master” Anthony Arvizu (drums). Other members are Stephen Hodges (percussion), John Bazz (bass), and Bill Barrett (harmonica). Mike Malone, who usually plays B3 and piano for the band, is unable to attend. Ford said they are “the best around,” and that they challenge him “to a higher level.”

“Marc Ford and The Blues Neptune Club is one of the most star-studded combination of musicians we’ve ever had at Smokin’ Moe’s,” said John Catt, founding board member of the GCBS. “This is the most famous group of musicians we have ever had on one stage.” Tickets are available at the GCBS Website, Radio Shack in Fraser, and at Smokin’ Moe’s in Winter Park.

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