Marc Ford of the Black Crowes
June 17, 2023
About the Artist
Note for note, Marc Ford ranks as one of the world’s preeminent guitarists. Even so, his songcraft commands the utmost respect. Ford is no one trick pony. Keyboardist Johnny Neel once said: “Marc Ford’s an actual genius. He has the best guitar sound I’ve ever heard.”
Ford’s career began in Los Angeles during the 1980s. His group, Burning Tree, captured the essence of his guitar virtuosity and songwriting.
He joined the Black Crowes in late 1991. Ford toured and recorded on three of the Crowes’ finest albums--The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, Amorica, and Three Snakes and One Charm. Ford’s tenure in the Crowes found the group operating at a zenith. He rejoined the Crowes in 2005-2006 when they toured and released The Lost Crowes--two albums the band never released when he was a member.
In 2002, Ford released his first solo album, It’s About Time. During this era, Ford experienced the highs and lows of surviving in a cutthroat music business through the years as well as being a dedicated family man. Ford’s following solo albums included Weary And Wired (2007), The Fuzz Machine (2010) and Holy Ghost (2014).
Ford won a NAACP award (John F. Kennedy counts as one of the few other Caucasians bestowed the honor) for his work on the Ben Harper and Blind Boys of Alabama album There Will Be A Light.
Also, Ford’s role as a record producer allowed him to use his gift of tone and a powerful ability to listen. Artists he produced include Ryan Bingham, Pawnshop Kings, Steepwater Band, Chris Lizotte, Phantom Limb and Republique du Salem. Marc Ford exists as a musical architect of the highest order.
Through his career Marc Ford has performed and recorded with Izzy Stradlin, Gov’t Mule, The Jayhawks, The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers, Federale, Widespread Panic, Blue Floyd, Booker T. Jones, Ivan Neville and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell.
The group on The Vulture, The Neptune Blues Club, recorded their debut album in 2009, which charted at #15 for two weeks on the blues charts. This versatile ensemble includes Mike Malone (vocals, harp, keys), John Bazz (bass), Anthony Arvizu (drums) and Ford. Mr. Ford unleashes his hypnotic guitar skills on these soulful tunes.
The Vulture was recorded on analog tape at mastermind John Vanderslide’s Tiny Telephone Studios located in the mission district of San Francisco. The Vulture emits Ford’s greatest strengths: soulful musicianship, memorable songs and an emotive groove.
Ford explained the ethos of these new compositions: “If Holy Ghost was Sunday morning, then The Vulture is Saturday night…”
The opening track--”Devil’s In the Details”--emerges as one of Ford’s finest. The tune operates in his electric wheelhouse. He’s like Clint Eastwood with a guitar. The well-crafted “The Same Coming Up” clocks in at one minute and fifty seconds emitting joyous rock n roll. “All We Need To Do Is Love” eases the listener into pastoral reflection. “This Ride” inspires reckless abandon. The title track contains Ford’s signature snakebite guitar work as he delivers a savage truth in the lyrics: “Got a head full of diamonds/And a nose full of snow/You leave a trail of destruction/Everywhere that you go/Got a shrug of the shoulder/For all that you stole.”
“Arkansas Gas Card” stands as one of the group’s stellar numbers that transfers with brilliance to a live audience. “Old Lady Sunrise” travels into sonic backwaters of a low-country swamp like some vintage STAX Records jewel. The gospel-laced “Deep Water” explores redemptive sanctuaries where matters of the soul are at stake.
“Shalimar Dreams” augments a gritty R&B, rock-n-roll magic in a mesmerizing sound that surrounds the listener. The last cut, “Girl of Mine”, is a love song Ford sings and provides steel on as the group provides a sparse, yet concise musical backdrop.
It’s harvest time for Marc Ford. Over the years he’s created his own stellar sound that meets all the rigid standards of excellence. The Vulture represents another timeless volume in Marc Ford’s inimitable musical journey...