Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson‘s new band the Green Leaf Rustlers offer a preview of their upcoming debut LP with a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations.” The album, From Within Marin, comes out on March 6. You can listen to the song — an exclusive premiere — below.
The past couple of years have been full of conflicting emotions for Robinson. He experienced some incredible highs, like touring with As the Crow Flies and announcing a Black Crowes reunion of sorts with brother Rich. But he also faced one of the lowest moments of recent memory as he and so many others mourned the loss of his friend Neal Casal, a Chris Robinson Brotherhood collaborator.
But 2018 and 2019 also marked the advent of another project for Robinson, the self-professed “hippie hayride” Green Leaf Rustlers, a band that perfectly captures Robinson’s mentality and attitude: “From the sage smoke and mists of Marin come your local purveyors of Cosmic Cali country music, playing the dusty country classics of your dreams.”
In early 2019, several shows throughout Marin County, Calif., were recorded; selections make up the Green Leaf Rustlers’ double-LP live From Within Marin. The band — which also includes pedal steel guitar player Barry Sless, guitarist Greg Loiacono, bassist Pete Sears and drummer John Molo — particularly shine on the Stones cover.
“To me, this live version of “No Expectations” is all about Chris and his delivery,” Loiacono tells UCR. “He just sways so soulfully inside Molo and Pete’s deep pocket. It is so easy to feel.”
Loiacono, who notes that “No Expectations” is one of his favorite Rolling Stones songs, points out Sless’ “outro steel solo. It’s awash in phaser, and his licks are all so good. There are a couple toward the end that made me laugh out loud with amazement.”
From Within Marin includes 10 tracks captured and curated by Betty Cantor Jackson, the legendary engineer and archivist for the Grateful Dead, as well as a longtime collaborator with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. The recording captures the Rustlers’ first time performing “No Expectations” in all its groovy glory.
”The band only had a few gigs under our belt at the time these live recordings were made,” Sless says. “You can hear the looseness. … [Robinson] brings soul and passion to it. I think Chris is one of the best singers out there, and it’s great to hear his take on these classics. We’re having a lot of fun with Green Leaf Rustlers, taking these old songs, loosening them up and stretching many of them out a bit.”
“Being in this band is a great joy to me,” Loiacono adds. “Each player is a powerhouse of musicality and humanness. I have had to raise my musical bar to keep up with their musicianship, and I have learned so much. And getting to listen to Chris sing these great old tunes is always a joy. On top of that, I get to sing along with him on some and even front a couple. This is a huge honor and delight for me.”
In addition to “No Expectations,” From Within Marin includes covers of JJ Cale’s “Ride Me High,” Gram Parson’s “Big Mouth Blues” and Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right Mama.” The double vinyl LP is housed in a gatefold jacket; it’s also available for digital download and on streaming platforms. You can pre-order From Within Marin now.