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Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Photo courtesy of classicrock.teamrock.com.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Photo courtesy of classicrock.teamrock.com.

By Brandon Judeh (Music Reporter)

Often time’s fans get lost in the fact that a musician is just a musician, but in most cases that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Take Chris Robinson Brotherhood guitarist Neal Casal. Though known for his musical mastery in bands such as Ryan Adams & The Cardinals and Hazy Malaze, the guitarist also thrives in photography.

“Photography is my passion, I love it,” said Casal. “Unfortunately now days people use it in impure ways and it ruins the art.”

Though in recent memory the paparazzi and others have used photography as a weapon rather than a tool, Casal uses it to complete the experience of life.

“For me it helps complete the full experience. I take a lot of photos backstage and on tour because a memory is only a small part of the story. With pictures, I can document and see the full experience of what happened,” he said.

In 2010 Casal released a photo-book titled, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals: A View of Other Windows, which documented his time spent within the band.

Though his photography is a constant work, he also finds time to help spearhead the psychedelic blues-rock of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

The band is currently embarking on a tour that will span through the end of the year, which is nothing new for the hard working band.

But does it ever get tedious?

“No not at all, sure certain times of the day are rough, as we are all piled in close together, but overall I love touring and I love my band mates and being out on stage is exciting,” said the 45-year-old. “That’s the best part of the day, especially with this band because the set list is different every night and the songs give us room to experiment and have fun with.”

Chris Robinson Brotherhood will be out supporting their new effort, Phosphorescent Harvest, and will be playing back-to-back nights at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in Cleveland on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 10 and 11.

Casal said he and his band mates love the new album.

“We are happy with how it turned out and that comes out of how well we work together as a whole. As far as the reception of the album, it’s hard to tell. When we make an album we make it how we want it to sound, not how the general public may want it to sound,” added Casal.

Later this summer the Brotherhood will be touring along side one of their hero’s, Bob Weir, as he and his band RatDog will be hitting the road, including a stop at Cleveland’s Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica on September 10.

Bob Weir’s influence, as well as his former band the Grateful Dead, on the Brotherhood is undeniable and Casal said their admiration is even deeper than many think.

“The Dead are a huge influence on us, not just musically, but also with their lifestyle and beliefs. All of us have kind of adopted these things from them, we aren’t trying to copy them by any means, but we just highly respect them.”

“There are a lot of bands that have influenced us though, not just the Dead. We even listen to a lot of the jazz bands that influenced the Dead,” Casal added.

After the Chris Robinson Brotherhood wraps up their touring duties at the end of the year, Casal, who has 12 solo albums under his belt, said a number of things are possible.

“After the tour is over we are just going to kind of see what happens next. For me personally, Chris Robinson Brotherhood is number one on my priorities list. We will just see where it goes and maybe we will record some new music once it’s all said and done,” finished Casal.

By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)

It has been over two decades since the world last heard from Cleveland alternative rock pioneers, Death of Samanatha. The band became one of the key players of the 80’s college rock movement, craving out a unique niche in the scene. But by the later part of the decade, at what seemed as the height of the group’s success, they disbanded and have remained relatively quiet for more than 20 years. Now they’re poised for a comeback with a long-awaited reunion disc spanning their short-lived but highly influential career.

Formed in 1983 by singer and guitarist John Petkovic, guitarist Doug Gillard, bassist David James and drummer Steven Eierdam, Death of Samantha took the scene by storm, becoming one of the first notable alternative/indie rock frontrunners in Cleveland. The infamous first gig at a Ground Round family restaurant has become that of legend. With bizarre stage antics, puck rock ethos and sound primed and ready for college radio, the band quickly rose to recognition, and caught the eye of Homestead Records in 1986.

At the time, Homestead Records, based out of New York, was home to some the biggest names underground rock had to offer at the time, including Sonic Youth, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Dinosaur Jr. The full length debut for the label, Strungout on Jargon, brought the band on the national underground scene. They continued to tour the latter half of the 80’s alongside big names such as The Replacements, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins.

Death of Samantha supporting Sonic Youth in the mid-80's.

Death of Samantha supporting Sonic Youth in the mid-80’s.

Sadly, as their aforementioned touring partners caught major label deals and broke out onto the early 90’s MTV scene, they never stuck it out long enough to ee their break. Following the release of Where the Women Wear the Glory and the Men Wear the Pants in 1988 and Come All Ye Faithless in 1990, Death of Samantha called it quits. A small reunion was attempted in 92, but never got off the ground. The band, whose influence can still likely be heard on rock radio via post-grunge/post-alternative acts (think Bush, Everclear, and perhaps Green Day).

In recent years, the original lineup of Death of Samantha have remained active musically, playing a handful off one-off reunions such as at the Beachwood Ballroom in Cleveland and 4th and 4th Fest in Columbus, Ohio. As of late last year, the have recorded an 18-track double album titled If Memory Serves to be released on Feb. 11 via the band’s St. Valentine Records. It will be their first release in 24 years.

If Memory Serves is comprised of re-recordings of old material. In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Petkovek said that the two-disc retrospective has gotten the band’s creative juices flowing, as they are planning more endeavors for the coming months.

“…a lead-in to a tour and a record of all-new material in 2015,” said Petkovek.

With a wealth of 80s indie rock acts such as My Bloody Valentine, The Replacements and the Pixies reuniting and releasing new music, there is no doubt that the time is right for Death of Samanatha to return to the scene and pick up where they have left off. Perhaps nostalgia for some, and a new chapter, new era or even a new beginning for many others.