October 15, 2013

Black Crowes drummer recalls first Portland gig

The band will play Tuesday and Wednesday at the State Theatre.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Steve Gorman launched his long career in music because he was looking for an excuse to drop out of college.

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The Black Crowes credit Maine rock station WBLM and its support of their first album, 1990’s “Shake Your Money Maker,” with helping the band make it big.

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WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

WHERE: State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland

HOW MUCH: $45 in advance; $50 day of show

INFO: Statetheatreportland.com

In his case, timing was everything.

“A friend of mine had moved to Atlanta and he called me to tell me he was starting a band and wanted me to come out and join,” said Gorman, 48, drummer for the Black Crowes. “If he had called me an hour earlier or an hour later, it might have been very different. But at that exact moment I was looking for an excuse to drop out of college, so I said, ‘I’m there.’ ”

Up to that point, Gorman’s entire drumming career consisted of about eight gigs in three years of college. But when he got off the bus in Atlanta, his friend had sent another musician to pick Gorman up. That turned out to be Chris Robinson, the future lead singer for the Black Crowes.

“I always felt like drumming was something I could do, I should do, but growing up I just never thought about how you get there. Playing music to make a living just felt like something other people did,” said Gorman.

Gorman has made a living most of his adult life playing music, primarily as the drummer for the Black Crowes. The band shot to fame in the early ’90s with a straight-ahead, classic rock sound, and has been touring and recording on and off ever since.

The band will be in Portland for two shows, Tuesday and Wednesday night, at the State Theatre.

The show is being sponsored by Portland classic rock radio station WBLM, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Even though the Black Crowes have been a national act for years, Gorman says he and his bandmates remember all the people who helped them get big, including WBLM.

“They were one of the first stations to really support “Shake Your Money Maker” (the band’s first album) in 1990, and they’ve been friends to us a long time,” said Gorman.

Gorman even remembers the first time the band played Portland, at the now-closed club T-Birds. The band members drove to Maine from Boston in a van in March of 1990.

He said the directions were “scrawled on a sticky note” and they drove around for hours before asking a teen-age boy on the sidewalk if he knew where T-Birds was.

“He said he did, but that it was in Portland. And we said, ‘Isn’t this Portland?’ ” said Gorman. “But it wasn’t. The kid got in the van with us and showed us the way. It was like 10 miles. I have no idea where we were.”

“Shake Your Money Maker” made the Black Crowes a staple of rock radio for years, with the songs “Hard to Handle,” “She Talks to Angels,” “Jealous Again,” and “Twice as Hard.” It sold over 3 million copies.

The band has released nine more studio albums, but never quite made the splash it did in its first five years or so.

Gorman said that in the first 12 years or so the band was together, they burned themselves out by touring too much. So they decided on a strategy of regular hiatuses. They took a break from each other and touring from about 2002 to 2005, and from about 2010 to this year.

Gorman says that if the band members had their way, they’d play for a week at a time in one location. They like getting the feel for a venue, setting up their sound just right, and playing different songs every night.

But they have to settle, because of logistics, with doing two-night gigs when they can. That’s why they’re looking forward to Portland.

“When you get to settle into a place a little, and really dial in the sound, it just makes it more fun for everyone,” said Gorman.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:



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